Asparagus is a seasonal vegetable and our harvest season is from September to December.
Our growers sell to consumers both locally in New Zealand and also export to selected high value international markets.
Our main export markets are Australia and Japan with smaller amounts to other countries including the Pacific Islands.
As such, the return for processed and fresh asparagus fluctuates according to market forces of supply and demand. Exchange rates between our currency and export markets also have an effect.
There are three steps in the fresh export chain – grower, packhouse, and exporter. Commonly, growers supply a packhouse who in turn supplies to an exporter. In some instances growers are also packers and exporters.
Often, only a proportion of the product is suitable for higher value export and the non-export product is sold to processors or to the fresh domestic market.
Maintenance of the cool chain from the paddock to the point of export is essential to provide customers with high quality product and a good shelf-life. Extra care is essential for any asparagus which is destined to be fresh exported. Asparagus is exported by air in 5 kg or 10kg boxes.
In order to export to Japan growers, packers, exporters and freight forwarders must be registered with the NZAC. This is a compulsory requirement as per the Dichlorvos Residue Assurance (DRAP) programme with Japan.
Our primary asparagus market are the domestic consumers here in New Zealand. We supply either directly from growers or through export packhouses. Supplies may be straight from the field or packed to some degree – washed, trimmed and graded, bunched or bagged.
As asparagus is a very perishable product, we take care to get it to our customers promptly once it has been harvested. We aim to get our asparagus delivered regularly and turned over promptly at both retail and wholesale levels so that buyers are always getting fresh product.
New Zealand asparagus growers may be registered with NZ Gap or be Growsafe Certified to ensure our produce meets both domestic and international food health standards.