Southern Specialties' Charlie Eagle, Grower Direct’s James Paul, and CarbAmericas' Jeff Friedman Discuss a Strong Asparagus Market
CALIFORNIA, MEXICO & PERU - With the Easter promotional period just around the corner, Asparagus operations are preparing for increased demand for the holiday pull. While asparagus supplies are somewhat lighter than anticipated for a number of companies leading into Easter, shippers tell me that volumes will still meet the consumer need during the holiday period, and quality is fantastic.
Grower Direct’s Asparagus Product Manager, James Paul, took a few moments to speak with me about the current crop as the company winds down at its operations in Caborca, Mexico.
“There is a tremendous amount of demand and promotional activity this year, and while the supplies out of Mexico are a bit lighter for us at present, we are getting into full swing in California and anticipate the crop to peak through the month of April,” James tells me. “Despite the small shortage for tail end of Easter pull, we are seeing great quality out of both regions.”
Currently Grower Direct is experiencing a strong market with prices increasing leading into, and out of, the Easter pull with product from California being priced slightly higher than product from Mexico. Demand is starting to show signs of exceeding supply for Grower Direct, but James notes that the current volumes will carry their retail partners through the Easter period.
“By the middle of next month we will see a pretty extreme price hike for April and May,” he adds. “Growth in the asparagus category continues to increase as the versatile vegetable becomes more and more popular among consumers.”
Charlie Eagle, Vice President of Business Development at Southern Specialties echoes the same sentiments and tells me that they are experiencing strong demand for the holidays. Product is currently coming in from Caborca, Mexico, and the company is shipping white asparagus from Peru for Easter, an ideal holiday item.
“The Peru deal will start to ramp up as we head into mid-April. There have been no significant weather issues. Some cool days and nights but no drama,” Charlie tells me. “We love to see the contrast of white and green asparagus merchandised together. Asparagus is also great when merchandised with dried hams like prosciutto or Iberia hams.”
Southern Selects encourages retailers to showcase the diversity of the asparagus category by including both white and green asparagus, together, in their foodservice outlets. Say, a green and white asparagus vinaigrette salad in the prepared foods section.
For CarbAmericas, current asparagus production is also coming out of Caborca and the company will have some volumes being harvested in Stockton, California, as well.
“At this time, the U.S. asparagus supply is mostly coming from these two areas. Peru is also sending asparagus, but supplies are light. As far as timing, Mexico will end in early April for us, leaving California and Washington State in action,” Jeff Friedman, President of CarbAmericas, tells me. “Spot market is $40.75-42.75. There is no shortage of asparagus this year and Mexico product will be available to promote.”
The company adds that asparagus from Mexico has been very nice this season. Volume is starting to come off a bit as the company gets to the end of the deal in Caborca.
“Easter pulls have already started for us, especially for product coming to the East Coast. Asparagus will be a good promotional item this year. As we move into April and Mexico finishes, a lot of volume will disappear from the market, resulting in a slight price increase.”
As we move through the holiday promotional period and into April, stay tuned to AndNowUKnow for continued updates.