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More tips and thinner sizes

Hortovilla markets ready-to-cook asparagus on trays and points out the trend towards smaller sizes

In asparagus, the price usually has a significant influence on consumers’ tastes and increasingly thinner sizes are being chosen over the thicker ones. Even in Switzerland, a traditional destination for the thickest sizes (16-20), the demand for 10-12 sized asparagus is becoming more common. Carlos Ortega, manager of Hortovilla, confirms this trend and points out another one at the other end of the bracket, that of asparagus tips, a more expensive product that makes it easier for consumers to cook and that is becoming increasingly popular; therefore, many companies from the sector have started marketing them. Presented on trays, asparagus without the lower part of the stalk (the woodier part) are offered, measuring around 14-15 centimetres instead of the 26-27 of whole asparagus. According to Ortega, this new format is seen as more efficient for two reasons: the first one is that the costs of transport are eliminated, since only the produce that is going to be eaten is transported, and secondly, and more importantly, waste is eliminated, as only the edible part is marketed.

Last year the cooperative from Villanueva Mesía (Granada) closed the campaign with a million kilos and 270 hectares and this year it plans to increase production by between 10 and 15%, weather permitting. “People are planting less due to the lack of water, although there is a great demand for asparagus”. This is the reason why the cooperative, already present in the main countries of Europe, is opening up other export lines, mainly in destinations such as Dubai and Canada, where they have a small trade window that runs from the 10th of April until the 10th of May.

Hortovilla’s production runs from February to June and in September they have a “short campaign” of 40 days for the national market. This is a “practice that was carried out in Granada in the past, on the farms that disappeared”, and that now the cooperative has recovered, but with new productions that supply better quality produce.

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