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Team Produce International Inc. sees moderate growth in asparagus deal

Mike Parr, president of Team Produce International Inc. in Miami, believes it is a prudent business decision this year to grow the supply side of his Peruvian asparagus deal moderately.

“I think overall we will see about a 10 percent growth in volume this year over last,” he said. “I want to grow about the same amount to maintain my market share, but I don’t want to grow too fast and exert a downward pressure on the price.”

Mr. Parr expects the 2011 marketing year to be similar to 2008 and 2009. “Last year was an anomaly because of the adverse weather conditions. Supplies were inconsistent, and the market price fluctuated too much.”

This year, he expects consistent supplies all season, which he said is best for both the importers and the marketplace. “It is easier for retailers to have consistent supply and consistent price,” he reasoned. “It is much easier for them to plan promotions.”

Speaking in early August, Mr. Parr said that movement was slow, as is typically the case for this time of year, and prices have been low. He is anticipating both the volume and market to pick up in about a month. “Right now, we aren’t getting much of the large sizes. Most of those are going to Europe, where their programs are more consistent right now.”

But he added that as the season wears on, a certain segment of the U.S. marketplace will have strong demand for the jumbo and large-sized asparagus, and the U.S. importers will get their fair share of the merchandise.

Team Produce specializes in green asparagus and in selling the traditional 11-pound carton. “We haven’t gotten into the value-added market as of yet,” he said. “You have to develop that market. But I do think it is a very important market for the future of the Peruvian asparagus imports. We are going to see growth in that area.”

He said that the staff at Team Produce is pretty much the same as a year ago. “We did lose one salesman, and we will be adding a new salesperson as the season progresses.”