Peruvian asparagus volumes likely down

07/26/2013 10:29:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Supplies of Peruvian asparagus were ramping up in July, but volumes will likely be down this year.

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Carb Americas Inc. began with Peruvian asparagus volumes in early summer, adding the South American product to its Mexican imports, said Jeff Friedman, president. By mid-July, volumes were increasing, to last through late December or mid-January.

That’s if Mother Nature cooperates, Friedman said.

“A lot depends on Peru, if they have cold weather.”

Competition from other markets could again limit Peruvian volumes to the U.S., but that’s not the only factor that could keep a lid on supplies this year, Friedman said.

There’s also the “thirsty crop” factor.

“Over the past two or three years, exportable volumes have dropped every year,” he said. “I think we’ll see that trend continue. Peruvian growers are disking over older fields and planting avocados, grapes, citrus — other things that don’t use as much water.”

That trend won’t go on forever, though, Friedman said. When new asparagus fields come into production in the next two or three years, volumes should creep back up.

Priscilla Lleras, coordinator for the Miami-based Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association, expected another strong year for Peruvian asparagus after a successful 2012.

“In 2012, Peru shipped over 172 million pounds of fresh asparagus to the United States,” Lleras said. “We’re at the launch in our season and expecting a good steady crop throughout the remainder of the year.”

A slower start to the 2013 season didn’t mean the deal couldn’t catch up, Lleras said.

“Volumes are a tad lower year over year. We anticipate our peak volumes, which begin in September and October, to compensate,” she said. “Peru has been able to supply and maintain fresh asparagus to U.S. retailers and foodservice with steady volumes carrying through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays.”

Miami-based Crystal Valley Foods imports asparagus from Peru year-round, but volumes really pick up steam beginning in July, said Rick Durkin, director of business development.

The company, which last year opened an office, Crystal Valley West in Los Angeles, expects its volumes to be up this year, Durkin said.

“We can now load a good amount of volume from both Miami and L.A.,” he said. “All of our growers are projecting strong supplies.”


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