Gourmet Trading Co., one of the larger importers of Peruvian asparagus in North America, moved its headquarters offices in the past year, opening a brand-new facility in the Southern California city of Redondo Beach.
The state-of-the-art warehouse and office is a newly renovated 53,000-square-foot facility. The space has expanded loading capacity, advanced precooling infrastructure and the addition of clean rooms for future value-added programs.
At the time of the move earlier this year, President Brian Miller stated, “This move is just one of many exciting changes at Gourmet Trading Company as the company grows into the next phase.”
The company also has facilities in Miami; Pasco, WA; Calexico, CA; Bakersfield, CA; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Auckland, New Zealand; Lima, Peru; Tokyo, Japan; and Caborca, Mexico.
According to Kristen Francisco, vice president of sales and marketing, the company, which was established in 1982, “focuses all of our energy on two commodities: asparagus and blueberries. The company is the largest grower-packer-shipper of fresh asparagus in North America. We have been steadily growing our market share on blueberries with a very strong South American program and growing North American program.”
For the current Peruvian asparagus season, Vice President of Procurement Scott Hulsey said that the company predicts that Peru’s total volume will be down about 5 percent and its U.S. shipments down 7 percent, though Gourmet expects its business to be up. He said the Peruvian asparagus industry exported around 25.5 million 11-pound equivalent cases in 2013, with about 16.5 million shipped to the United States.
“Gourmet Trading, despite the declining trend in the industry, expects to continue growing,” Hulsey said. “From 2012 to 2013 we grew by 15 percent and this year we estimate a 10 percent growth.”
The Gourmet Trading procurement executive said the vast majority of the firm’s production will be air-shipped to the United States but ocean liners will also be used.
“The U.S. industry ships 8.9 percent of the Peru freight via ocean, and Gourmet is right in line with the industry,” he said. “We do not foresee a change in this allocation for this year.”
While weather can always play a role in production cycles, Hulsey said the crop appears to be following normal patterns this year.
Gourmet Trading Co., which was a pioneer in importing asparagus from Peru into the United States back in 1990, utilizes two company-owned farms, as well as outside production, for its shipments.
Francisco said the company is anticipating the market price to be fairly similar to 2013 for the balance of the year, though she noted that both air and ground transportation rates are expected to be a bit higher than last year.
New this season is a branded bagged asparagus line that Francisco says has “graphics that are sure to catch consumers’ eyes and lift sales.”
With regard to promotions, Francisco said Easter is the most popular holiday for asparagus promotion followed by Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Gourmet Trading ships Peruvian asparagus around the world to retail, club stores, foodservice and wholesale accounts. Francisco said changes on the world scene could affect supplies to North American markets moving forward.
“Other markets, especially Europe and Asia, have a growing demand for Peruvian asparagus, which may result in a reduction to the United States,” she said. “Year to date, we appear to be on track to see 65-68 percent of all Peruvian asparagus exports come into the United Sates.”