(Nov. 25) Consumers evidently responded to Thanksgiving ads on asparagus, with a strong supply of Peruvian product. Importers are eyeing a possible price hike as Christmas orders arrive and production begins tapering off in Peru.

“A lot of people were reordering today already, because Thanksgiving sales were that good,” said John Barmmer, director of marketing for Bounty Fresh LLC, Miami, on Nov. 24.

October and November are the peak shipping periods for Peruvian asparagus, although some shippers have a year-round program that diminishes greatly in the early spring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Nov. 24 reported f.o.b.s for 11-pound cartons of bunched jumbos and extra-large at $12-13, large at $13-14 and small at $11-12.

Many shippers expressed optimism as the main shipping season winds down, with supplies starting to drop in mid-December with the advent of Mexico entering the market with asparagus shipped from Sonora’s Caborca region from January into early April.

Leo Rolandelli, president and general manager for asparagus marketer Jacobs, Malcolm and Burtt Inc., San Fransisco, however, said pre-Thanksgiving arrivals of more than 100,000 11-pound cartons of asparagus in Miami could hold back any price increases.

“We’ll also have Mexico starting a little earlier this year, and with that and all of the volume out of South America, I don’t see this market entertaining more than a $16-18 (per 11-pound cartons) on the West Coast and $14-16 on the East Coast, maybe as high as $17,” Rolandelli said.

Mike Rubidoux, senior salesman for Growers Express, Salinas, said Christmas doesn’t bring the sales volume that Thanksgiving does, but he said supply should ease some of the overcrowding on the market.

“Shipments will go strong until mid-December, and then it will start lightening up because it’s toward the end of the season,” Rubidoux said. “… There’s still a lot of people cooking and asparagus is pretty prominent on home menus. There’s a lot of demand, at least stable, if not an increase in demand.”

Both volume and demand was high for Thanksgiving, and Dan Wahl, president of United Fresh International Inc., Miami, said prices should rise as the new year approaches.

“The demand has been extremely high here the last couple of weeks, and the supply will start going down,” Wahl said.

Although Mexico’s production isn’t expected to encroach on the peak of the Peruvian deal, Rolandelli said Caborca has been pushed ahead by a cold snap and harvest there could start in mid-December.

“So far, everything looks good (in Caborca),” Rubidoux said. “Currently they’re experiencing a cold front. For asparagus, it’s a good time of the season for this to happen.”