Progressive Produce Launches Diverse Asparagus Season
MEXICO - Spring is just around the corner in the state of Sonora, Mexico, as it comes earlier in this great agricultural region than most of North America. And with that early desert warmth comes the start of the asparagus season. As one of the best times for yield and quality of asparagus, the Caborca/Mexicali region creates a wonderful opportunity for promotion of the category. According to Sean Barganski, Asparagus Sales Manager for Progressive Produce, expectations are for this season’s peak volumes to come around February 17 and last 3-4 weeks. This will make for a great promotional window for the second half of February and all of March.
“We have found when our retail partners display green asparagus in conjunction with our purple, white, and organic green asparagus in a high visibility location, shoppers respond with impulse purchases that then lead to follow-up meal planning for weeks. That’s why it is so important to promote asparagus in February,” explained Sean.
This year, Progressive expects to ship a record number of cases of asparagus as the continued result of calculated plantings.
“The Caborca season is the start of the calendar in the asparagus world, but it is our growing operations and investments in 16 different regions throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Peru that allow us to take the momentum from the Caborca season and carry it through the end of the year,” said Andy Webb, Sales Manager. “I’ve been with Progressive for eight years now, and it’s the commitment to research and development that sets us apart; and we do what we say we will do.”
The prospect that has Progressive most excited this year, however, is developing its purple asparagus program. When we asked Lauren Brierly, Sales Manager, about specialty items, she said the trends show that purple asparagus has foodies excited and at-home chef’s experimenting with this eye-catching variety of asparagus. Purple asparagus is touted as a superfood with its powerful pigmentation called anthocyanins, which gives the asparagus a higher antioxidant offering.
“It’s great on a store shelf because it calls attention to the category as a whole. It also tastes tender and delicious and is easy to cook with, just like green,” Lauren told us. “We are excited to have increased plantings, but we think demand will outpace supply for a few years because it takes so long to get new plantings up to production. Our national data has purple consumption up 14.4 percent in dollars year over year.”
Organic asparagus continues to see consumption increase and Progressive is planting more to meet up with consumer demand.
“Our Nielsen data shows the organic asparagus category is up 19.2 percent in dollars nationally year over year,” Cory Stahl, Vice President of Sales, said. “In certain regions the numbers are higher and others lower. Our sales team is working with our customers to help them connect with their consumers correctly with region specific planning.”
Asparagus is one of the vegetables that calls out spring’s arrival while snow is still on the ground in much of the country. Look for strong promotions and high quality asparagus throughout North America over the coming months, and stick with us at ANUK for the latest news across all categories.