Due to the warm temperatures recorded during the autumn and winter, Extremadura's white asparagus season is starting earlier this year.
"We have started the white asparagus harvest very early this year thanks to the favorable weather conditions and the implementation of new, natural cultivation techniques. We have been marketing it for more than two weeks, positioning ourselves as the first suppliers of this product in Europe," explains Emiliano Andrade, manager of LEMA. In addition to the earlier start, there is also a quality production, with a good availability of the sizes most demanded by the markets. In Spain, for example, sizes 26 and up are the most demanded, while in Germany they prefer those between 16 and 26.
The company, based in the municipality of Don Benito, Badajoz, has its own plantations with a productive potential of 1,400,000 kilos, cultivated by a single grower since 1986. "We have varieties of high organoleptic quality and low fibrousness that meet the needs of the most demanding palates," says Emiliano Andrade.
The main destinations for the asparagus are in central Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland, as well as in the domestic market. At present, the markets in which Landfruit-LEMA works also have a supply of Peruvian asparagus, which is a tough competitor because of its low prices. Meanwhile, Germany also has some small amounts of local produce grown in heated greenhouses. "Sales are going smoothly, despite the fact that there is pressure on prices," says Emiliano Andrade.
According to the manager of this company, Germany and Switzerland are big white asparagus consumers. "They appreciate its gastronomic quality and its multiple health benefits, such as its recognized purifying and diuretic properties, or its great fiber content, as well as the fact that they are low in calories."
In the Spanish market, the white asparagus are distributed through the Wholesalers Network, supermarket chains, Gourmet spaces and high cuisine establishments, "which increasingly appreciate the quality of this product grown in Don Benito," he says.
The acreage devoted to white asparagus in Spain is being gradually reduced due to the difficulties involved in its cultivation and its high production costs due to its abundant use of labor.
"We are trying to protect a declining product in Spain through innovation in the way it is cultivated. We carry out exhaustive controls of the temperature and we prevent the product from coming into contact with the sun. Despite the fact that we also have advanced automatic calibration and sorting machines for asparagus, a lot of laborers are still required. We do everything in our power to ensure that the product arrives to the points of sale in less than 48 hours after being harvested," concludes Emiliano Andrade.