On a mission to find our more about asparagus...
Later this month some of the Sirane team involved in fruit and vegetable packaging are heading for Kidderminster. It's not often we say that, normally it's Berlin for Fruit Logistica, or Madrid for Fruit Attraction.... but this time it is an agronomy day held by the British Asparagus Growers Association near Kidderminster.
In the UK the asparagus season officially runs from April 23 to Midsummer Day, and due to the short growing season it can command a high price.
It's a complex thing, asparagus. In the UK it is normally green, and only young shoots are eaten, so the growers have to time it right. It is 93% water, low calories, and bursting with goodness. However, in much of western and central Europe asparagus is white, as a result of a blanching technique used while growing. This makes it less bitter and more tender.
Blanching technique is a very complicated way of saying they pile soil on top of the plants so they get no sunlight. No sunlight, no photosynthesis, no photosynthesis, no colour...
There's also a variety of purple asparagus, developed in Italy and named Violetto d'Albenga.
in 2011 the US imported 174,609 tonnes of asparagus, while Peru exported 376,645 tonnes. Big numbers for something with a short growing season. So the trick must be how to make the most of the product during the short season, and how to make the most of exports. Hence my colleagues' trip to Kidderminster....
As a development company, we're always looking at how to develop products for certain markets and more importantly what products those markets need. So in some ways this is a fact-finding trip as much as anything. But we already know we have some products perfect for asparagus, including our steam-cooking bags where it can be sold with a chilli butter, for example, as a value-added product. We also offer pads and asparagus pouches.
I'm sure after trailing around some farms near Kidderminster we'll have lots more ideas on the products we can offer.
MARK LINGARD, MARKETING