Importers expect strong summer demand as Mexico and Peru take over the asparagus deal.

By mid-June the domestic asparagus harvests were mostly in the rear-view mirror and shippers were focusing their attention south of the border.

“Mexico seems to be just about in full stride,” James Paul, asparagus and avocado salesman for The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles, said June 18.

On-again, off-again rains kept growers guessing, Paul said, but the net effect on quality and yields turned out to be minimal.

Volumes from Central Mexico should be steady for Giumarra well into August, Paul said. The company expects similar or slightly higher volumes compared to last year.

In Peru, meanwhile, the quality, size profile and yields were all looking good as of the week of June 17, said Cruz Carrera, sales and category manager for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., which wrapped up its California deal in early June.

“We expect it be a good year,” he said.

A combination of lower Peruvian acreage and other factors should keep movement brisk this season, Carrera said.

“We expect demand to be steady to strong for the majority of the season,” he said. “Global demand is up.”

On June 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14-15 for 11-pound cartons of standard and large bunched green asparagus from Peru, down from $21-23 last year at the same time.

In mid-June, Los Angeles-based Gourmet Trading was sourcing from Peru and Mexico, said Chloe Varennes, marketing manager.

“The quality of asparagus out of Peru is quickly improving,” said Scott Hulsey, Gourmet Trading’s vice president of procurement. “Our Mexican asparagus quality is currently performing better than it typically does this time of year. Yields from Peru and Mexico have been higher than anticipated at the beginning of the season.”

The transition from the end of Gourmet Trading’s Washington production has gone fairly smoothly, despite higher than anticipated yields from Peru and Mexico, Hulsey said.

Looking back on the California season, Carrera said a slight lull before Mother’s Day was more than compensated for by strong holiday demand and finish to the season.

“It was a very good season.”

Markets in the $16 range in mid-June for Mexican asparagus could strengthen later in the month, Paul said.

“It’s got a chance to start to come back a little bit at the end of next week,” Paul said.

Product from Washington and Michigan was still trickling in mid-June, but for the most part, the asparagus deal belonged to imports, Paul said.

Peru’s asparagus was running fairly strong by mid-June, Paul said, but some importers were reporting quality issues.

Mission expects to kick off its Baja California deal in late July or early August, Carrera said.