In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Asparagus market in the US. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.
According to the USDA, Peru consistently shipped asparagus to the United States in 2022, with volumes amounting to 217 million pounds, securing the second position globally among asparagus suppliers to the US, with Mexico occupying the leading spot at 361 million pounds. The USDA reports that through late June, U.S. imports of Peruvian asparagus were off nearly 40% compared with the same time a year ago.
The Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association (PAIA) deliberated upon the challenges faced by the asparagus industry in terms of production difficulties in the year 2023 during its PAIA Board Meeting held in Miami, Florida, on June 22nd. According to a news release issued by the association, the asparagus industry has seen a significant decline in production.
Unprecedented weather patterns in both Peru and Mexico have significantly impacted the regions’ production and export capacities. Peru, which has not witnessed a cyclone in 40 years, was recently hit by Cyclone Yaku in the North. According to the National Meteorology and Hydrology Service of Peru (Senamih), the climatic phenomenon is an unorganized cyclone that is very abnormal and has caused rainfall to increase disproportionately in regions that were predominately dry. In just one day, the affected regions received a year’s worth of rainfall.
Moreover, the official onset of El Nino and its accompanying torrential downpours have further aggravated the situation, impacting asparagus production, harvests, and logistical operations in the northern regions. The excessive precipitation has resulted in approximately 40 percent or more of the cultivated fields undergoing a phase of “regrowth,” leading to delays in harvesting activities. The rains have destroyed roads, making transportation impossible. In affected areas, cities have declared a state of emergency which has wreaked havoc on transportation and caused major delays in logistics.
The confluence of these meteorological events has caused temperatures to reach staggering levels of 80-95° Fahrenheit in certain areas, surpassing the average temperature range of 65° to 70° F during this period. Such elevated temperatures impose undue stress on production processes and act as triggers for harvests that fall below the anticipated yield levels, thereby compounding the adverse impact on agricultural productivity.
According to a report, both production and exports in Peru have been experiencing a steady decline in recent years, primarily due to the contraction of Peru’s market window. This downturn in Peruvian supply can be traced back to the disincentive created by the hikes in freight rates, especially air transportation, during the pandemic. This surge in costs has significantly eroded profit margins. Another factor that has also adversely impacted the industry is the stringent requirement imposed by the US health authorities for fumigation as a prerequisite to accessing their market.
This regulatory demand has created formidable barriers for numerous producers, affecting their ability to secure contracts with importers from the US. Furthermore, this requirement has further strained the cost structure, rendering this crop progressively less appealing within the country. Consequently, there has been a stagnation in new plantings, as a considerable number of producers have opted to replace the crop with alternatives that offer greater financial returns.
Week 26 saw average daily prices of Asparagus in the US increasing by 12.75%. Further hikes in pricing could be in sight, considering the historical trend of heightened demand for asparagus during the summer months.
Asparagus movement into the United States is expected to persist at levels below initial expectations for the upcoming two to three months. PAIA members are cautiously optimistic, as they turn their attention towards a promising fourth quarter. This optimism stems from the gradual transfer in terms of production to the southern regions, which have remained unaffected by the prevailing challenges.
In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.
All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.
You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at www.agronometrics.com where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.
Written by: Sarah Ilyas