Peruvian asparagus slow out of the gate

07/17/2014 01:49:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Early-season Peruvian asparagus shipments to the U.S. have been slowed by less-than-ideal growing weather.

After a slow start to the season, the deal should begin to ramp up as summer progresses and domestic deals wane, said Jeff Friedman, president of Pompano Beach, Fla.-based CarbAmericas Inc.

“After the Fourth (of July) things should start to turn around for Peru,” he said.

File PhotoAs of late June, however, Peru was still biding its time while other growing areas, flush from excellent growing conditions, continued to ship in volume.

“Growers in Peru are asking us to take product but the f.o.b.s they want do not reflect the prices in the U.S.,” Friedman said. “Europe is paying a premium. There’s good demand there, but they can’t take the volume.”

The quality and size profile of the 2014 Peruvian crop was largely unknown as of the end of June, thanks to lower volumes than usual coming in due to a saturated market, Friedman said.

“It’s still to be determined,” Friedman said. “It was a warm winter for them. They had some of the Niña effect. Volumes were affected a little bit.”

At the beginning of July CarbAmericas was sourcing from Northern Peru, where the growing weather had not been ideal, Friedman said.

But that was mitigated by the sluggish demand for Peruvian product in the U.S.

“The weather’s been cloudy there, and it’s hurt production. But it doesn’t matter, because there’s no demand.”

Going forward, Friedman sees Peru supplying the Northeast and the rest of the East Coast and Mexico handling demand in the Western U.S.

Volumes should peak in October and November this year, Friedman said.

Peruvian shipments for Robinson Fresh, a division of Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide, should begin in August, peak in September and October, then decline in late December or early January, said Joe Dugo, the company’s senior category representative.

Peruvian asparagus volumes rose 10% in 2013 over 2012, and Priscilla Lleras, coordinator for the Miami-based Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association, expects another strong year in 2014.

“The trend for peak volumes begins in August, steadily increases in September and goes through January,” Lleras said.

Volumes should begin to decline in February 2015 before tapering off for the season in April, she said.

In its second year as a third-party cold storage and perishables logistics provider for Peruvian asparagus importers, Miami-based Crowley Fresh, a division of Crowley Maritime Corp. is adding organic certification, said Eduardo Campos, the company’s director.


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