(Sept. 7) Peruvian asparagus importers are looking forward to an increase in volume as winter comes to an end in Peru.

The months of June, July and August spell tight supplies out of South America. Production has been even lighter this year thanks to exceptionally cold weather, said Tom Drake, vice president of product management for Central American Produce Inc., Pompano Beach.

“The Peruvian deal was very light during the winter months in Peru,” he said. “It was very short in August and part of July this year. Cold weather has kept production down.”

Peru exports year-round and production always picks up in September as winter ends and the Mexican deal wraps up, said Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., South Hackensack, N.J.

“Peru has had a really decent market this year,” he said. “Most of the growers are in a transition period right now.”

United Fresh International Inc., Miami, is in the first part of its Peruvian asparagus deal, said Dan Wahl, president.

“We’re actually just getting started in the deal,” he said Sept. 2. “Shipments are starting to increase and quality is equally as good as it was last year.”

Prices hovered around the $20 mark the month of August, Drake said.

Wahl said fuel surcharges have kept prices high throughout much of the deal. In fact, importers saw a 15% jump in trucking rates the first week of September, he said.

Caribbean imports were $21-22 for 11-pound cartons of bunched jumbo green asparagus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Sept. 6. Cartons of extra-large asparagus were $19-21, large were $18-19 and standard-sized were $16-18.

Last year at the same time, 11-pound cartons of bunched jumbo asparagus were $16, the USDA reported. Extra-large were $13-14, large were $14.50 and standard-sized asparagus was $15.50.

Shipments through Miami had reached about 610,000 cartons by Sept. 6, the USDA reported. Peru remains the largest exporter of fresh asparagus in the world and it accounts for more than 45% of all U.S. imports.