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The fourth edition of International Asparagus Days has been presented

From 7 to 9 September it will make its debut at Macfrut 2021 in Italy

For the first time International Asparagus Days (Iad) will take place as part of Macfrut, the international fruit and vegetable fair scheduled at the Rimini Expo Center from Tuesday 7 to 9 September 2021. The asparagus supply chain is the protagonist, at the center of conferences, demonstration tests in the field and technical visits to the company during the three days of the fair. The Iad is one of the dynamic areas present in the event and is coordinated by Luciano Trentini with the technical and scientific support of Christian Befve , one of the world's leading experts in the supply chain.

In our country the production of asparagus covers an area of about 9500 hectares, with the bulk of the production concentrated in Puglia (about 50% of the total), followed by Veneto (21%) and Emilia Romagna (about 8%). Asparagus is a cultivation that maintains a positive trend from a commercial point of view given the growing trend in consumer demand for all types of asparagus: green, white and violet. There is also an increase in demand for green asparagus for the foreign market, preferably organic. Investments in the last two years, especially in southern Italy, have suffered a decline as early as 2019, which continued into 2020 as it was aggravated by the commercial problems associated with the Covid pandemic. The reason for the decline in the areas planted with asparagus in southern Italy is linked to both agronomic aspects (cultivation techniques and choice of varieties) and environmental aspects (negative climatic trends characterized by drought springs and frequent frosts), which have had negative repercussions on the business income.

Also for this 2021 campaign, the situation, especially in Puglia, is difficult. The lower temperatures and the abundant rains are, as in the previous year, delaying the harvest again, compromising once again the production yields. At the moment, due to lack of product, market prices are good but there is a fear of a lowering of market prices if the feared concentration of production between the production areas of northern and southern Italy occurs due to adverse climatic trends, similar to the 2021 when late frosts hit hard.

In 2020, the pandemic led to the closure of bars, restaurants and canteens (Horeca and catering) and this contributed to reducing the consumption of not only fresh, but also preserved and frozen asparagus. Only the marketing to large-scale distribution and exports have allowed almost normal sales. Also in 2020, the difficulty of finding labor had a significant impact on farmers' decisions to reduce investments and also on the decision to abandon harvesting in young plants. In Italy this year the production area is estimated at approximately 9,500 / 9,800 hectares. To these must be added about 1000 hectares of young plants waiting to go into production. White asparagus, which represent just under 20% of the entire national surface, are present only in two Italian regions, more precisely in Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Purple asparagus (the best known is the Violet d'Albenga) are grown almost exclusively in Liguria.

The national production is always driven by green asparagus from Puglia which today still represent production levels above 5,000 hectares, in Veneto about 2000 hectares of green and white asparagus are grown (70%). In Emilia-Romagna (about 750 hectares) and in Lazio (500 hectares). In Campania, the crop covers over 400 hectares of green asparagus mainly grown in greenhouses. About 200 hectares are cultivated in Friuli Venezia Giulia, 70% of which are white. It can be said that for this 2021 campaign, the surface at the national level compared to 2020 has decreased by about 10%. The most marked reduction occurred in the south where the decline is estimated to be very close to 15%. On the other hand, production is stable in the smaller regions and in Campania and in the north, where there are some new investments. There is a slight increase in the production of early asparagus heated or with geothermal waters such as Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Lazio, but there are trials in place that plan to use water heated by renewable energy or as in the case of a very recent and new plant , which uses electricity as an energy source.

The global market prospects for asparagus are good. After a phase of overproduction in the 2000s due to the overrun of the 300,000 cultivated hectares, it has dropped to now stand at around 215,000 hectares, not enough to cover the world demand for white and green asparagus. According to projections, a cultivated area of between 270,000 and 280,000 hectares is needed to meet the world demand for asparagus. In the world, the largest producer is China with an area of 93 thousand hectares, followed by Mexico with 29 thousand and Peru with 22 thousand.

In the dynamic area in Macfrut all aspects of the supply chain are studied in depth: from new varieties to nursery production, from the preparation of the land for the plant to the management of the asparagus plant with particular attention to the possibility of anticipating production, from the harvest of asparagus (white and green) to the processing of the product in an environmentally friendly way to guarantee the final consumer a high quality product. Also during the fair, two days of conferences and round tables are planned (7-8 September) on the main issues such as variety choices in Italy and Europe, together with the importance of field checks to choose the most suitable cultivars. Thursday 9 September is dedicated to technical field visits.

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EFA News - European Food Agency
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