The global asparagus market faces a significant shake-up as Peruvian exports experience a sharp decline in both volume and value. The repercussions are felt worldwide, impacting key importing markets and contributing to an increase in international prices.
Peruvian exports of fresh asparagus have taken a hit, plummeting by 33% year-on-year (YoY) in volume and 12% in value between January and October of the current year. This dip is primarily attributed to reduced purchases from significant importers and smaller harvests caused by adverse weather conditions.
In the period from Jan-23 to Oct-23, Peru shipped 64.73 thousand metric tons (mt) of fresh asparagus, generating USD 249 million. This represents a substantial decrease compared to the 96.82 thousand mt valued at USD 283 million exported during the same period in the previous year.
Peruvian asparagus has been grappling with challenges stemming from climate change in 2023. Cyclone Yaku hit northern Peru in March, followed by El Niño-induced heavy rains, negatively impacting the north's production, harvest, and logistics. Extreme precipitation led to approximately 40% or more of the fields undergoing "regrowth," causing delays in the harvest.
Major importing markets, including the United States (US), Spain, and the United Kingdom UK), have experienced a notable reduction in imports. As the primary destination, the US imported 32% less in volume and 8% less in value compared to the previous year. Spain and the UK also recorded significant drops of 23% and 36% in volume, respectively.
Tridge Transaction Data Service (TDS)
Challenges faced by the Peruvian asparagus sector extend beyond the current climate-induced issues. The initial supply decline was attributed to escalating freight rates during the pandemic, eroding profit margins. Stringent fumigation requirements imposed by US health authorities created barriers for producers, hindering market access and increasing overall costs.
Moreover, the decline in international asparagus prices in 2022, driven by heightened production in Mexico and Europe, prompted Peruvian producers to reconsider asparagus cultivation. However, unusual weather patterns in 2023 disrupted the capacity of both Mexico and Peru to flood the market, leading to sustained high prices.
In response to water-related challenges, Peruvian farmers have strategically readjusted asparagus fertilization, reducing fertilizer usage by up to 50%. The anticipation is to weather the El Niño phenomenon and resume regular crop cultivation with the remaining fertilizer.
As stakeholders navigate this dynamic landscape, strategic considerations and adaptability become crucial in harnessing growth potential in the Peruvian asparagus sector. The industry is tasked with mitigating climate-related risks, adapting to changing market dynamics, and ensuring sustainable practices for long-term viability.