Asparagus Market - Peru and Mexico Top the List of Global Asparagus Suppliers

Vegetables And Melons September 24, 2015
Author: Olga Minchina
Account Manager

asparagus market

Asparagus, a flowering perennial native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia, is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks, and garlic. Like many leafy greens, asparagus contains vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting and bone health. Just four spears contain 40% of the days' norm of vitamin K. In addition, asparagus spears are rich in vitamin E, folate, vitamin C and a little bit of tryptophan.

Being a time-intensive vegetable to harvest, countries with low labor costs have a competitive edge over higher labor waged asparagus producing countries. China, in particular, fits this former model, a country with an abundance of cheap labor, and thus has cornered the market on inexpensive asparagus. Chinese asparagus is mainly cultivated in two regions divided by the Yangtze River.

While China leads the way in global asparagus production, it is primarily consumed domestically, meaning that they lag behind in exporting the product. It is, in fact, Peru that tops the list of the world's asparagus exporters.

In Peru, the asparagus industry is relatively new. Despite high levels of production, asparagus is not historically a Peruvian food, nor has it fully entered the country's gastronomy yet. According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the asparagus industry there was started by a single family in the 1950s in the VirĂº Valley of coastal Peru.

Even though asparagus plantations can currently be found in many regions of Peru, production is concentrated in Ica and La Libertad, where approximately 80 percent of Peruvian asparagus is cultivated. Thanks to Peru's coastal climate, devoid of dramatic temperature variations, asparagus can be grown all year round, unlike the majority of other worldwide producers that harvest asparagus predominantly in springtime.

The secret of the continuous Peruvian asparagus crops lies in the dearth of rain there, which allows farmers to be in complete control of their irrigation systems. For example, they practice inducing drought stress to the plants, fooling them into going dormant for a required stretch of time. This trick allows farmers to set up different fields that can be harvested at different times.

This combination of temperature and dry climate is unique, and though some people advocate seasonal asparagus consumption, recent consumer behavior seems to indicate that customers expect to find the product available on the store shelf regardless of the time of year. This new reality combined with retail marketing tendencies will continue to favor year-round offerings.

From 2007 to 2014, exports accounted for only 4% of global asparagus output. Due to low trade intensity, imports and exports should not be regarded as strong factors influencing global asparagus market dynamics in the medium term.

In 2014, Peru and Mexico were the main global suppliers of asparagus with a combined share of 69% of global exports. However, the fastest growing suppliers from 2007 to 2014 were Italy (+18% per year) and Mexico (+13% per year). Despite being the largest global producers of asparagus, China and Germany did not export much of their production, meaning that it was domestically consumed. Mexico significantly strengthened its position in the global import structure, from 22% in 2007 to 34% in 2014.

In 2014, the U.S. (58%), Germany (7%) and Canada (6%) were the leading destinations of asparagus imports, together making up 72% in physical terms. The share of the U.S. increased significantly (+14 percentage points), while the share of France illustrated negative dynamics (-2 percentage points). The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Peru dominated in global asparagus trade and took the second spot in production. In 2014, Peru exported 33.6% of its total asparagus output. Of this amount, 69.6% was supplied to the United States, where Peru's asparagus held a 41.3% share of total U.S. consumption.

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Source: World: Asparagus - Market Report. Analysis And Forecast To 2020