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The Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association recently developed a U.S. regional retailer opinion market survey to assist the industry identify areas of opportunity and challenges for fresh market asparagus.

The study obtained direct opinion knowledge from retailers on a regional basis and interviewed over 70 retailers across the United States. Those interviewed were specifically from the front lines of buying fresh asparagus as well as merchandising.

Topics discussed in the survey included purchasing patterns, consumer- buying habits, evaluating value-added solutions, looking at consumer choice regarding sizing, attitudes toward various logistics issues, current challenges facing retailers, and areas for industry improvement.

Priscilla Lleras, coordinator of the association, said in a Dec. 17 press release, "The study was compiled for PAIA membership and will aid in providing valuable information that enables them to enhance their current programs to retailers and their customers. The study reported that the retailers are very interested in growing the category [and] increasing consumption for fresh asparagus and wanted to focus efforts on promoting the fresh asparagus category. This market study is an excellent tool that provides the entire industry with first-hand ideas and information from U.S. retailers that will equip the industry to sell more asparagus. The information on value-added solutions and logistics will help focus future efforts in these areas."

Chris Martin, president of Gourmet Trading Co. in Los Angeles and co- chairman of the association, added in the press release, “The study contains suggestions from retailers on how to better influence consumers' buying habits and increase sales, as well as identifying current challenges and ways to improve the category over all. Consumer trends indicate that more and more Americans are eating their meals at home and this study equips importers and distributors with valuable information enabling them to better serve retailers and their customers.”

According to the association, as consumption continues to increase, Peruvian asparagus will aid in the demand by providing retailers with sufficient supply so retailers can stock their shelves with healthy green and white Peruvian asparagus. This benefits U.S. consumers by making asparagus a year-round product and provides U.S. households a healthy and convenient vegetable for families’ diets.

The association will focus even greater efforts in 2010-11 on spreading the positive word to trade press, supermarkets and consumers concerning the benefits of fresh asparagus through articles, advertisements, direct- communication and trade show participation. The association anticipates increasing consumption and demand for fresh asparagus in 2010-11.