Price increase gives asparagus farmers a mixed year


A stall selling asparagus at a market. Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/Symbolbild

© dpa-infocom GmbH

The asparagus season ends on Friday. It hasn’t been easy for the growers this year. They felt the effects of high prices twice over.

At the end of this year asparagus season growers in the Northeast draw a sobering conclusion. “This year was not a good year for all asparagus farmers,” said Yvonne von Laer from the company “Mecklenburger Freshness” in Tieplitz (Rostock district). Because of the price increases, for example for fuel or food, people have less money for the precious vegetables. There was also talk of a mixed year at the asparagus and potato farm Demmin (Mecklenburg Lake District) and the asparagus farm Gast (Ludwigslust-Parchim).

Asparagus is grown extensively at “Mecklenburg Freshness”, said von Laer. In contrast to previous years, however, one third of the acreage was not harvested. The perennials are already two meters high and “are happy that they can grow”. Compared to previous years, the prices were lower. It is not yet possible to precisely quantify the loss in sales.

Madeleine Blum from the Demmin asparagus and potato farm said that sales at the retailers supplied had fallen by 30 to 40 percent in some cases. At their own shopping stands, there were not quite as big losses. “People are afraid that they can’t afford anything anymore.” The topic inflation be omnipresent. “Then you think twice about whether you eat asparagus twice a week or just once or every two weeks.”

Her farm grows asparagus on nine hectares. That is comparatively manageable. “All in all, we’ve already gotten rid of our asparagus.” However, the price per kilo was always about one euro below that of the previous year. Stefan Gast from Spargelhof Gast, where according to his own statements asparagus was harvested on seven hectares, said: “We had price explosions that we just couldn’t pass on to the end consumer.” In some cases, prices have risen by 400 percent, for example for pesticides or fertilizers.

The asparagus season traditionally ends on St. John’s Day (June 24). After that, the perennial herb is allowed to grow to gather strength for the following season.