High quality Australian asparagus being produced this spring
Asparagus growers say demand for the vegetable continues to grow each year, due to the quality of the product.
Australian Asparagus Council President, Alex Motta says the forecast is looking like it will be a traditional season in terms of volume, but the quality is very good.
"Asparagus is certainly moving from a delicacy into an everyday vegetable, with growth continuing domestically each year," he said. "Internationally, Australian produce is known for its superior quality – we hold a special place in a number of overseas markets for the quality of our produce. This quality is a big selling point, because buyers know they are going to get a consistent standard with the quality assurance and practices we use in growing."
The main production regions currently in Australia are Koo Wee Rup and Mildura (Sunraysia) in Victoria. There was a little production throughout August, with asparagus quantities building up in September, while October and November are looking promising too so growers are expecting a good season.
"We had a good fern growing stage in the off-season, and the decent winter weather that we had was favourable for preparing the ground properly," Mr Motta said. "The windy weather we had in July and August also made it easy to prepare the fields. The dry conditions over winter have been ideal for growing conditions, meaning our crops are extra juicy and fresh. This season we’ll see plenty of variety with thick, medium and mini spears on offer for customers. The thick spears in particular are tender and perfect to grill on the barbeque."
The demand for asparagus is fantastic and we’re seeing this demand grow year on year, which Mr Motta says a lot about the quality of the product being put into the marketplace.
"It used to be more of an export market, but over the last few seasons it’s become closer to 50/50 in domestic and export sales," he said. "Domestic is becoming a bigger market and it’s more economical to market our own door step, particularly as Australians become more confident with preparing vegetables."
Australia's biggest export market is Japan; 2-3 years ago, it was 80 per cent but it’s now dropped back to 70 per cent.
"Japan has a very strong demand for asparagus, they look to the Australian market first after looking at local asparagus," Mr Motta said. "There are always challenges with growing, but at the end of the day everyone in the industry is experiencing fairly solid production, or about to head into the busy part of the season, and we are always prepared. There are challenges when it comes to the cost of running a business, as that is rising, but the cost of the product doesn’t always reflect this. The industry is also very labour intensive which can be challenging, but we just roll up our sleeves and get on with it."
He adds that asparagus is not only delicious but is also bursting with nutrients. One serve of asparagus, which is approximately three to four spears, has a quarter of an adult’s daily vitamin C needs, as well as providing B vitamins, potassium, and fibre.
For more information
Australian Asparagus Council