"Dispensable vegetables": Asparagus is becoming a slow seller

It is probably the German seasonal vegetable - the asparagus.

"Dispensable vegetables": Asparagus is becoming a slow seller

It is probably the German seasonal vegetable - the asparagus. But in times of high inflation, many consumers avoid the mostly white poles. The prices are as low as ever. Producers are complaining about many operational closures and are concerned about the forthcoming increase in the minimum wage.

The asparagus farmers in Germany are feeling a significant drop in demand for the precious vegetable this season. In food retailing, customers mainly bought staple foods and no-name products, said Fred Eickhorst, spokesman for the board of the Association of Asparagus and Berry Growers in Lower Saxony, in Sandhatten (Oldenburg district). "We are also severely affected by this with asparagus and strawberries." A significantly lower purchase volume was registered this season, confirmed Claudio Gläßer from the Agrarmarkt-Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI) in Bonn. This was confirmed by figures from the Society for Consumer Research (GfK) from April.

Asparagus is an "dispensable vegetable" that many people associate with higher prices: "Many people look at what they are spending the money on and what is left after filling up, what you have to put aside for future higher bills. " And people who don't have to pay so much attention to the price would currently prefer to spend their money on travel - there is obviously a lot of catching up to do here after two years of abstinence due to the corona.

The asparagus prices are currently lower than they have been for a long time: in the past week, the average price for white asparagus from German cultivation was 7.06 euros per kilo, said Gläßer - twelve percent below the average price for the corresponding week of the previous year. "The asparagus and the strawberries have never been so cheap at this point in time, not even before Corona," said Eickhorst.

The competition from foreign green asparagus is particularly painful for domestic producers. A discount chain recently sold a kilo of green asparagus for 2.96 euros per kilo, said Gläßer. "It hurts the German regional producer to have to see that on the market." No German company can compete with such prices.

The reluctance to buy will have an impact, said Eickhorst. Many areas have already been taken out of production, and that in the middle of the season. The area under cultivation will continue to decrease, some smaller asparagus farms have already gone out of business - especially those that only supplied wholesalers. These had had practically no business during the past two Corona years, said Eickhorst.

With the introduction of the minimum wage of twelve euros on October 1, the competitive situation of German farmers will worsen compared to the competition from Italy or Spain, said Eickhorst. It is foreseeable that other farmers will give up. The self-sufficiency rate in Germany for fruit, at 19 percent, and for vegetables, at 35 percent, is already not high and will therefore continue to decline: "With their shopping behavior at the sales counter, consumers can decide whether there are still regional products from Germany , even if these are more expensive than from abroad."

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