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Carb/Americas expects solid season

With an expected volume of 800,000 to 900,000 cases of Peruvian asparagus during the prime shipping season, Carb/Americas Inc., in Pompano Beach, FL, expects the 2018-19 season to be fairly similar to previous years in terms of supplies and volume.

green-asparagus President Jeff Friedman told The Produce News in mid-August that the total volume shipped from Peru to the United States will probably be a bit less than last year, but his firm’s volume will be about the same as it has been. He said Carb/Americas is a medium size company with a volume amount that “probably puts us about seventh or eighth on the depth chart.”

He expects a “relatively stable market throughout the season” with promotable pricing by late September or early October. Friedman said that timing is perfect as kids go back to school, the weather cools off and cooking vegetables like asparagus are once again top of mind. He noted that asparagus pricing is very cyclical with high f.o.b. prices stifling demand, followed by lower prices and good promotions. And then the price starts to rise again and repeats the same cycle. As he was being interviewed, Friedman said the market was in the mid-$20s range because of lack of supplies but by the beginning of October retailers will be paying significantly less per carton with committed ad pricing.

The company will continue to offer its same array of packaging including asparagus in bulk cartons as well as in display-ready retail bags. “Bagging has been very successful so I expect that to continue,” he said.

Carb/Americas offers several different value-added options including a microwavable tray pack and another bag with special properties to help extend the shelf life of asparagus. The firm will continue to offer all three colors of asparagus: green, white and purple.

On the news front with regard to the asparagus category, Carb/Americas will be introducing an organic program soon after the first of the year. One of its main growers in Mexico transitioned some acreage a few years ago and it will be ready early in 2019. “We expect to have two loads per week of certified organic asparagus from Caborca, Mexico.”

Of course, Peru does not ship organic asparagus into the United States because of the fumigation protocol required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On another news front dealing with another commodity, the firm recently brought on Zach DeHart as the category manager for berries. He’s had 10 years in the business in a variety of positions on both sides of the sales transaction. Though it is unrelated to asparagus, it does speak to the company’s diversity.