January 4th, 2019

Asparagus, a Unique Investment Opportunity

Asparagus or Asparagus officinalis is a perennial flowering plant that produces a spring vegetable. Consumed for millennia, the asparagus originated in the eastern Mediterranean and was already widely cultivated by ancient civilizations like Greece and Egypt. Biologically related to onions and to garlic, asparagus has numerous health benefits and, in ancient civilizations, was believed to have medicinal properties. Moreover, between the 16th and 18th centuries, asparagus was a delicacy in Europe’s royal courts before becoming widely consumed worldwide.

Asparagus, a Unique Investment Opportunity

There are three main varieties of asparagus, with different types within each variety. The three main varieties are green, white, and purple asparagus. Green asparagus is the most commonly known variety in North American markets. The most common types of green asparagus include Jersey King, Jersey Knight, Jersey Giant, and Mary Washington, amongst others.

Meanwhile, white asparagus, which is produced by depriving this perennial from natural light during its growth period, is most commonly known in Europe. Lastly, purple asparagus are mainly produced and consumed in Italy and the United Kingdom.

Today, asparagus is cultivated in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia. During 2016, the global trade of asparagus (both fresh and chilled) totaled US$1.34 billion, which makes asparagus the 1574th most traded product in the world. In 2016, the largest exporters of asparagus were Peru, representing 35% or US$469 million of global exports, and Mexico, accounting for 35% or US$466 million. Simultaneously, the largest importers of fresh and chilled asparagus during 2016 were the United States, totaling 48% or US$648 million of global imports, and Germany, representing 6.9% or US$92.7 million.

Farmfolio’s newest partner is the Bravo asparagus farm located in Mexico’s Rio Grande river banks bordering Texas. This strategic location allows the farm operators and investors to take advantage of Mexico’s strong economic and agricultural fundamentals, while benefitting from preferential access to the US market and to European markets by way of the port of Houston. The Bravo organic asparagus farm has been a pioneer in its field for over half a decade by providing high quality produce to a growing North American market. Likewise, benefiting from the market integration provided by the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (formerly NAFTA), the asparagus produced at Bravo farm are also shipped from Houston to the Netherlands in little over two weeks.

As an export geared operation, the Bravo organic asparagus farm is in the process of securing key certifications that will facilitate international market access. These certifications include Global GAP, Sedex, USDA certified organic, and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification from SGS. Similarly, the Bravo asparagus farm is committed to running a carbon neutral operation.

Global Gap has mandatory food traceability system incorporated, because it is not just a system for good farming practices. It is mandatory to keep records of inputs into the crops and to properly label parcels and lots. This way, when fruit arrives at the pack house, the customer and the supplier can trace where it came from and how it was grown. Additionally, each production lot at the pack house is managed individually and boxes are labeled with a unique number that can be traced to a parcel or lot or origin. Thus, if there are any issues with a particular shipment the farm and the pack house can trace it all the way back to the ground lot.

(Read more about Chile and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation)

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