Economic pressures haven’t exerted much influence over Peruvian asparagus sales in the restaurant sector, according to growers, shippers and marketers of the product.
“We have seen growth in our foodservice business over last year,” said Julia Inestroza, marketing manager for Los Angeles-based Gourmet Trading Co.
Sales are strong even though the recession continues to bear down on consumers.
“It appears that, while the economy isn’t recovering as quickly as we would like, people are returning to their prior eating out habits,” she said.
That seems to go against asparagus’ pricey reputation, said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Southern Specialties.
“Peruvian asparagus provides great value for the foodservice category,” he said. “Here is a product that, while considered upscale, can make for controlled food costs and is available year-round.”
The product brings options for foodservice purveyors, which is one of its strengths, Eagle said.
“Because asparagus is available in a range of sizes chefs can decide upon the presentation they feel is best for any given dish,” he said. “They will know, in advance, the approximate number of spears and the cost per serving. You may have noticed asparagus is featured in many food illustrations. Chefs enjoy presenting asparagus on the plate for the same reason.”
Bruce Klein, marketing director for South Hackensack, N.J.-based Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., said his company’s foodservice sales have been strong.
“It’s a huge part of our business,” he said.
Asparagus is an entrenched part of menus, which helps sustain the product through economic downturns, said Jeff Friedman, president of Carb Americas Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla.
Almost any major restaurant or steakhouse you go to is almost always offering asparagus,” he said. “I think foodservice is a very strong target audience for asparagus.”