Interest in bagged asparagus has been increasing for several years. ( Photos courtesy Green Giant Fresh; Crystal Valley Foods )

Importers of Peruvian asparagus continue to see increased demand for bagged product.

Priscilla Lleras-Bush, coordinator of the Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association, said the interest has been growing for a while.

“With consistency year after year, U.S. retailers are requesting valued-added products that provide their customers with an assortment of options,” Lleras-Bush said June 19.

“Many of our PAIA importers are packaging Peruvian asparagus to provide their customers with a variety of value-added (stock-keeping units) ... that equip the U.S. consumer with Peruvian asparagus quality, convenience and savings for their mealtime selections.”

Walter Hoffman, asparagus commodity manager for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Robinson Fresh, also noted the trend.

“Retail (seems) to be increasingly interested in bagged asparagus,” Hoffman said June 23.

“One-pound bags and 12-ounce tip presentations seem to be the most requested complement to the industry’s tried-and-true 1-pound bunch pack.

“Additionally, branded asparagus has been a strong growth driver for our business,” Hoffman said.

Katiana Valdes, director of marketing for Miami-based Crystal Valley Foods, said asparagus consumption has been increasing along with consumer awareness of the health benefits of the vegetable.

“Our standard size continues to be our best seller at retail,” Valdes said June 14.

“However, tips and bagged product are becoming more and more popular for consumers and foodservice operators that want fast and easy ways to prepare the vegetable. Our bagged asparagus comes in microwaveable, extended-shelf-life bags, and we are able to customize sizes as needed.

“Asparagus continues to do well in restaurants and other foodservice outlets and, as is the case in retail, standard sizes are usually the most desired from operators and distributors,” Valdes said.

Jeff Friedman, president of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based CarbAmericas, reported interest in bagged product when the price is right.

“Certain times of the season we see the value-added,” Friedman said June 15.

“When markets are typically lower certain times of the year, people request a 12-ounce bag or a 2-pound bag because then they can price it right at retail. It just doesn’t work out when markets are higher.

“The value-added is starting to find its niche here, and slowly but surely the U.S. is creeping toward the way Europe is doing business as far as marketing and selling asparagus at the store level,” Friedman said.