Asparagus is gaining ground in the produce department. More and more consumers are taking an interest in this green veggie. Its higher price point makes it a winner for your department when you market it well. It is a traditional favorite during the spring holidays but take advantage of its year-round availability to promote it in all seasons.
- Asparagus offers many health benefits, especially because it contains several micronutrients that offer big benefits. Asparagus contains glutathione, which is a cancer-fighter. Rutin, which helps to strengthen blood vessels, is plentiful in asparagus. Asparagus has the most folacin of any vegetable, which means that eating it can help prevent neural tube defects in babies.
- Asparagus also contains chromium, which helps insulin carry glucose into cells.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following nutrient content descriptors for asparagus: fat-free, saturated fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free, low in calories, a good source of vitamin C and high in folate.
- Market asparagus with other items like Hollandaise sauce, cheese, olive oil, butter or margarine, lemons and Italian dressing to produce department sales.
- Asparagus is available year-round but is most plentiful in the spring. Create a marketing plan that includes asparagus during all seasons. Try some of these seasonal ideas:
- Fall: Include asparagus in soup displays to interest consumers in a different flavor and texture to add to soups and stews.
- Winter: Encourage consumers to consider asparagus as a side dish for holiday meals. Asparagus’s great flavor and interesting looks make it a great dish for the festive table.
- Spring: Spring is asparagus’s time to shine. Include it in promotions for Easter and Mother’s Day. Encourage consumers to take advantage of increased supply and lower prices.
- Summer: Asparagus is the perfect grilling vegetable. Include it in summertime grilling promotions, especially around the traditional summertime holidays. Offer offering grilling packs, with shorter, trimmed stalks and include a recipe for the grill.
- While many consumers are familiar with the green asparagus variety, create an eye-catching and interesting display by adding purple and white varieties to the display, as well.
- Display asparagus bundles in an area where they will be kept moist but not overly wet. If they sit in too much water, they will begin to rot. Asparagus can be displayed in bundles or bags.
- Place asparagus next to brighter-colored vegetables that pair well with asparagus for a meal. Consider placing asparagus next to red potatoes, eggplant or carrots.
- Asparagus is a great vegetable for foodservice because its long stalks add interest and drama to any plate.
- Puree asparagus to add a deep green color to any plate presentation.
- Choose long, thin stalks for your dishes as they are more tender and cook faster than thicker stalks.
- Add asparagus to salads and salad bars.
- Asparagus makes a great side dish for just about any meal when served with Hollandaise or cheese sauce.
In The Backroom
30-lb. (minimum) pyramid cartons/crates, bunched or loose 28-lb. cartons/crates, bunched 24- to 25-lb. cartons, 161⁄2 packages 21-lb. lugs/cartons, loose 20-lb. 1⁄2-pyramid cartons 20-lb. cartons, bunched 15- to 17-lb. 1⁄2 pyramid cartons/crates, loose or bunched 15-lb. cartons, loose or bunched 14-lb. cartons 12-lb. 1⁄2 cartons 12-13 1⁄2-lb. 1⁄3 cartons/crates, bunched 11-lb. cartons/crates RPC: Not available. Foodservice packs Cartons, 6 5-lb. bags
United States U.S. No. 1 U.S. No. 2 Washington Washington XF (extra fancy) California stalk diameters Small – 3⁄16 inches and larger Standard – 5⁄16 inches and larger Large – 7⁄16 inches and larger Extra large – 10⁄16 inches and larger Jumbo – 13⁄16 inches and larger Colossal – 1 inch and larger
Temperature: 37 to 41 F, 2.8 to 5 C Relative humidity: 95-100% Mist: Lightly Typical shelf life: 10 to 21 days Highly sensitive to freezing injury. Asparagus seldom is stored for more than 10 days. If product is to be held more than 10 days, store at 35 F to avoid low-temperature chilling injury. Fresh asparagus deteriorates rapidly when low temperatures are not maintained. At room temperature, it quickly develops a woody tissue and loses sugar content. Good-quality asparagus will be fresh and firm with closed, compact tips and good green color.
- 32% of consumers said they purchased asparagus in the past 12 months.
- Asparagus is popular across several ethnic groups with about a third of Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian shoppers saying they purchased it in the past year.
- Consumers with household income over $100,000 per year are more than twice as likely to purchase asparagus than those under $25,000 per year.
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