Demand shoots up for British asparagus May Day traditionally marks the start of the asparagus season in the UK and pickers are hard at work harvesting the delicate spears to sell in farm shops and supermarkets. British asparagus used to be a rare treat, only enjoyed in the finest restaurants but this year it is so popular it's likely to be included in a two-for-one deal at the supermarket. Sales have increased by 15% year-on-year, with the total retail value of the market now at £18.2m ($27.9m; 21m euros). Last year, consumers got through a bumper 7,500 tonnes and 2010 is expected to be another record year. Humble beginnings It was a very different industry 25 years ago when only a few farms up and down the country were cultivating the crop. Among them were the Owens, a farming family from Little Witley in Worcestershire. They began with just three acres but now have 80 acres and are desperate for more land. "We just can't satisfy the growing demand from the supermarkets. The colder winter has slightly delayed our harvest and we just can't pick the crop quick enough,"' said farmer Philip Owen. '"We are very dependent on the weather. The cold winter has delayed the start of the season slightly but it also affects us day by day. If it's cold overnight the asparagus grows slowly but if it's warm a spear can grow up to 10cm in a day.'' Growing demand Promotions run at retailers like Waitrose and Marks and Spencer also help to boost sales. "We have seen an increased demand over the last few years for local regional produce," said George Hebditch, a buyer from M&S. "Each year demand exceeds our expectations. For the 2010 season we have been working all year with our growers to ensure that we have the quality and supply in place to make it the best season ever." To fill the shelves, growers have increased their crops, growing 84% more in the last five years. "It's grown from a cottage industry into a multi-million pound business," said Andy Allen, chairman of the Asparagus Growers' Association (AGA) who farms at Portwood Farm in Norfolk Explain using demand and supply theory how the price of asparagus might change in local supermarket at different times in the year.
Pages to are hidden for
"demand shoots up for british asparagus"Please download to view full document