20 years ago Peruvian asparagus would not be found in the shops whilst now Peru is the largest exporter of fresh asparagus and is second only to China in its exports of processed asparagus.
Unlike some of its competitors Peru hardly consumes any of its own produce exporting 99% of its output both fresh and processed. Only Mexico shows similar characteristics where 95% of the produce is exported. By contrast Mexico is exclusively in the fresh asparagus export market where it is the second largest exporter.
Peru has a very different growing season to its competitors. The plants are forced into a dormant period not by temperature (cold) but by drought. The asparagus grows in irrigated beds planted on reclaimed desert. The plants can be forced into dormancy by switching off the water. Using this method year round production can be maintained with a rotation of irrigation timed to meet demand in its export markets. This system of growing gives Peru the highest yields seen across the globe at roughly twice the production per hectare of its competitors.
Roughly half of the asparagus produced in Peru is green and sold fresh whilst the other half is white and sold in cans and jars.
Peru was able to produce asparagus very cheaply due to very low labour costs, cheap water and high yields. These factors offset the cost of transport which is roughly half the cost of Peruvian asparagus by the time it reaches our shelves. When Peru came into the US market in a big way asparagus prices plummeted to the extent that some US growers went out of business and a compensation scheme was put in place in the US to help the growers.
There are a few
things to think about when buying Peruvian asparagus.
1)If you worry about your food and its carbon footprint this imported asparagus has a lot of air miles attached to it!
2)You may or may not have read articles about the severe water shortages caused by the asparagus industry in the ICA valley in Peru where much of the asparagus is grown
3)You may or may not be aware that all asparagus imported to the USA is fumigated with Methyl Bromide as it enters the USA
These issues are discussed in more detail under the heading “should we be buying Peruvian Asparagus?”
The easiest way to cook Asparagus!
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Basics of how to cook fresh asparagusstart by looking at How to Cook Asparagus first for some background information on a range of cooking methods.
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