The high prices paid for asparagus have meant an increase in surface area and some operators are warning of the danger of a drop in profitability if harvests are not planned.
It is known as ‘green gold’ due to the good prices that it obtains (2€/kg in 2016) and its stability (in recent campaigns the prices have not varied by more than 10%). For this reason its surface area continues to grow. In Andalusia, the main producing region, this crop increased by almost 8% according to figures from the Regional Government, and more hectares are being added this year. In addition, during this year, UPA expects production to increase by 10% compared to normal years, exceeding 65 million kilos on a regional level (2016 was not typical due to the drop of between 30-50% in production owing to adverse weather conditions). However, as both UPA and some operators in the sector warn, this rapid growth could cause an imbalance between the supply and the demand with negative consequences for the producers on the subject of profitability. Although it is true that the demand by European countries continues to rise, factors such as the growth rate of the Spanish offer, along with the increase in imports from other origins such as Peru or Mexico (in Michoacán alone asparagus growing has increased by 800% in 4 years and the exports to Spain could be increased after the arrival of the Trump Administration in the USA) should be taken into account.
Some producers are calling for planning as a priority to prevent the saturation of the offer to ensure that asparagus continues to maintain its status as a social crop. It is worth mentioning that in Andalusia asparagus provides 1.5 million working days in the fields, whilst in the processing sector 4,000 people work during the three months of harvesting and 400 work all year round, as the chairman of the Agricultural and Fisheries Training and Research Institute of Andalusia, Jerónimo Pérez recently stated.