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Asparagus ~ Quick Industry Facts

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A few quick ‘Tips’ and ‘snippets’ from the guys at The Asparagus Festival…

  • Short term, the market has gone bonkers – the supermarkets are clamouring for asparagus to fill the gaps on the shelves left by the fresh veg not being air-freighted.  Asparagus is the first home grown British vegetable of the season, so it has fallen to St George and his asparagus spears to save the day.  One large Evesham Vale grower reports his sales have doubled since the weekend because of this factor.  The only other fresh green veg available in bulk are brassicas trucked in from Spain – and people are rapidly getting fed up with cabbage!
  • In the Vale of Evesham, the centre of the growing region, overall asparagus yields this year are 10-15% up compared to last year, which means sales are 10-15% because the growers always sell all they can grow.   That said, last year’s yield was about 20% down on the year before because of the cold wet spring – this year is better, although it’s still been a slow start.  It’s no bad thing, the slower the asparagus grows, the better it tastes.
  • Observer/Guardian at the weekend put out some misinformation that the crop is growing so slowly that it won’t be available on St George’s Day – not true!  There’s no glut, but there are plenty of supplies lined up.  Loads of pubs and restaurants around Worcestershire have got special asparagus menus for Friday, and the growers are very busy.
  • A spokesman for one of the UK’s largest groups of asparagus growers, Western Asparagus Growers, says their policy is to keep 5 days’ buffer stock, but they’re down to 1 day now because the supermarkets are buying ahead of plan, to compensate for the shortfall in air-freighted vegetables.  They were programmed to sell 3 tonnes this week, 6 tonnes has gone out.
  • Demand for asparagus in the UK always outstrips domestic supply, with the shortfall fulfilled from imported bundles from overseas markets, mainly Peru, Guatemala, Mexico and Spain.  During the crucial 6-8 weeks of the British Asparagus season imports fall off and there is very limited imported product going into the market. However, throughout the rest of the year, asparagus imports equate to a retail value of £19.5m. (TNS / Kantar).  According to the Asparagus Growers Association, British asparagus is a major growth business, with the total value of the domestic market topping a record £18.2m last year, up 15 per cent year on year.
  • Total UK asparagus production is expected to total just over 5,000 tonnes this year!

Want to know more on Asparagus? Search the word ‘Asparagus’ in our search bar top right and hit ‘return’ and see what pops up, or visit the official festival website HERE

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