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This year's Peruvian asparagus outlook

In 2015, the U.S. imported more than 431 million pounds of fresh-market asparagus, of which Peruvian asparagus represented more than 46 percent of the Total World Supply, according to the Peruvian Asparagus Importer’s Association’s 2016-17 Fresh Asparagus Category Statistics & Trends report.

“Peru remains to be the consistent, quality supplier of fresh asparagus into the United States,” said Jay Rodriguez of Crystal Valley Foods, and co-chairman of PAIA. “As consumers are looking for healthy and convenient super foods, Peruvian asparagus importers and exporters provide innovative packaging and cooking alternatives that appeal to a wide segment of the buying market.”

Looking at the projected conditions ahead for the rest of the season, there’s no reason to believe that there will much change from recent years in terms of volume.

Priscilla Lieras-Bush, coordinator of the PAIA, shared that the high quality has been a consistent factor of imports in years past and will continue to be for this year as well.

“During 2013 to 2014 there was an increase in volume of close to 10 percent, and as of right now, we are anticipating a steady volume throughout the remainder of the year to be imported,” she said. “However, at year’s end we may see a slight decrease in overall volume.”

Rick Durkin, director of business development for Miami-based Crystal Valley Foods, said predicting the season is hard because it’s a bit of a moving target.

“In many countries, when one references a ‘crop’ it is a 10-12 week harvest cycle but Peru is much different,” he said. “In Peru we import asparagus 52 weeks a year, as the harvest region transitions from the North (Trujillo), to central Peru (Casma) down to the area south of Lima (Pisco and ICA). Each region has distinct soils, temperature variations, cloud conditions, and rainfall.”

That means that companies are constantly ending one harvest cycle and beginning another and there will be expected subtle quality variations in each production area as a harvest cycle progresses from beginning to end.

Gary Meadows, director of sales at Progressive Produce, based in Los Angeles, said production has been on schedule this year and the company looks forward to a nice volume and quality for the upcoming holidays.

Jeff Friedman, president of CarbAmericas, headquartered in Pompano Beach, FL, agreed with the assessment as the remaining months of 2016 look promising for its asparagus crop.

“Currently, it is winter in Peru, so volume is a little lower than normal because of the cool weather they are experiencing,” he said. “I see more farms staring to harvest in late September and early October and will have supplies through December. Weather conditions should be more favorable because the El Niño current is not in the south or Central America. Volumes are down a couple percent over last year as an industry, but we expect the quality to be good.”