Health status of European asparagus

The main producing countries analysed their evolution at the German show, Expo-Se

The latest edition of Expo-Se in Germany, held last November, showed the situation of the asparagus crop in some of the main European sources.

The participants took the 2021 campaign as their reference, when European production of the asparagus category reached 315,000 tonnes (+3% compared to 2020), according to data provided by the French Customs Service.

With 40%, Germany is the main European producer, followed by Spain with 21% and the leader in green asparagus, Italy (16%) and France (8%).

Germanic ‘appetite’

In 2021, Germany produced 115,700 tonnes, a figure which, compared to the start of the century (50,000 t), takes into account the Germanic ‘appetite’ for this vegetable. According to the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), the consumption per capita in this country reaches 1.7 kg.

The rising trend in green asparagus consumption is worth mentioning, boosted by consumption by young people. Although this typology only represents 10-15% of total asparagus sales at present, its greater ease when cooking (it does not need prior boiling as white asparagus does), its lower price compared to white asparagus and its healthy properties, are turning it into a product that is becoming increasingly popular.


In 2021, Italy produced around 34,000 t on 7,500 has, including both greenhouse and open air crops, according to data gathered by ISTAT. The producers mainly opt for green asparagus, a crop that extends all over Italy, while white asparagus is only grown in the north-east of the country (Véneto, Friuli, Venice, Giulia and Trentino Alto Adigio). In the 2021 campaign, Italy imported 5,787 t (69.9% more than in 2020) with a value of 23.6 million € (+77%), 45% coming from Spain (+61% compared to the previous year) and 15% was imported from the Netherlands (+74%). In the export chapter, Italy sold 11,337 t for a value of 49.2 million euros (+35%). The main destination was Germany with 44%, followed by Austria and Switzerland. After Covid, problems such as the a shortage in the work force, climate change, a drop in consumption and the fall of the market prices have caused a reduction in cultivated surface areas that was estimated at 8% last year in comparison with 2021 and 18% compared to 2020.


In France, production reached 25,000 t in 2021. As with the German market, the popularity of green asparagus is also increasing little by little, and its cultivation is beginning to spread, although its consumption continues to be much lower than that of white/violet asparagus. For every kilo of green asparagus bought, 2.7 kg of white/violet asparagus are purchased.

In 2022, each French citizen ate 1.1 kg, as can be extrapolated from the data from Kantar, with supermarkets making up the main channel, with 52% of the asparagus purchase volumes compared to 34% in 2010. A fact worth pointing out is that consumers are mostly middle-aged: 84% of the purchases were made by people over the age of 50 years, and only 6% by those under the age of 35 years.

2023: a shorter campaign in Spain

In 2021, Spain produced a total of 62,174 t, including all the typologies on a surface area of 13,520 ha, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Spain leads the European production of green asparagus, concentrating over 60% of the total production in the province of Granada. Other important production areas are Navarra, the leader in white asparagus production, and Guadalajara (with the arrival of more and more of the main operators from Granada in order to diversify their crop areas).

In 2023, the Spanish green asparagus campaign started late compared to the previous one, due to the cold and frosts and it might end before normal due to the lack of rainfall. A situation that will cause, according to forecasts from the sector, a 25-30% drop in production.

This scenario has had repercussions on the prices, which were “very stable” at the start of the season, the General Secretary of COAG Granada, Miguel Monferrer, affirmed. This year the starting signal in the average Spanish Prices statistics collected by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food occurred in week 12, with 509.41€/100 kg, way above the 331.05€/100 kg of week 9 in 2022 (the first week in which data was collected last year). However, the prices quickly dropped to 295.90€/100 kg in week 13, and 266.24 in week 14.

Challenges of the Spanish sector

The Spanish Green Asparagus Interprofessional Organisation met up with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, in Huétor Tájar (Granada) before starting the campaign. A meeting with a “very positive” result as the Chairman of the Interprofessional Organisation, Antonio Fco. Zamora, indicated to Fruit Today.

Both the Chairman and the other representatives from the sector were able to describe some of the future initiatives that are being prepared to the Minister, as well as the challenges they are facing, for which they asked for the Ministry’s support. These challenges are:

  • PAC: the sector demands that green asparagus should not be considered as a permanent crop, but rather as a multiannual arable crop.
  • Packaging and Waste Law: from the Interprofessional Organisation they are asking for administrative simplification to aid the bureaucratic work carried out by the companies.
  • Work force shortage: the lack of qualified workers in the industry means that foreign workers must be used to help to fill in this gap. The Interprofessional Organisation asks for the establishment of agreements with other countries to bring workers from other sources. This would allow companies to continue operating and expanding without any interruptions in the production or service, Zamora explains.
  • New markets: the opening up of new markets, mainly the USA, India and Japan, is essential to guarantee the production and sale of Spanish green asparagus.
  • Spanish Green Asparagus Brand: another of the demands is the creation and backing of green asparagus as a Spanish brand. An action that could mean a great change for the sector, giving it a greater boost for both clients and end consumers. To do this, they are asking for the collaboration and establishment of synergies with the Ministry’s Promotion Campaigns through ‘Alimentos de España’.
  • Aid for innovation: the mechanisation and digitalisation of the production process are essential, as with the automation of tasks, companies can reduce the time and resources needed to carry out their daily activities. In order to achieve these improvements, companies from the Spanish green asparagus sector need the correct economic boost. And they demand a subsidy for the digitalisation and modernisation of their systems, to help to improve efficiency and productivity, encouraging more informed decision-making processes, allowing them to be more competitive, improving client experience and reducing long term costs.
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