demand shoots up for british asparagus by xiaopangnv

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									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.

								
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