Global Asparagus Market Place Creates New Partners of Former Competitors
Ontario and Michigan look at marketing partnership in North America
Jeff Wilson and Denton Hoffman
Dec 15th, 2004
Woodstock, ON - At this yearís annual Ontario Asparagus Growers Marketing Board meeting, recently concluded in Woodstock, Ontario, guest speakers from both Washington and Michiganótwo of Ontarioís primary market competitorsótalked about the juggernaut of Peru and its production that was sweeping the markets in the U.S. With the growth of year round asparagus crops in the North American marketplace coming from Peru, and beginning from China, itís clear that todayís competition is no longer the grower down the road, or from the next state or province
"Previously, Washington was into the market in Ontario before us," says Jeff Wilson, newly-elected Chair of the Ontario Asparagus Growers Marketing Board, "and they were coming to the end of their crop when we were peaking. Michigan processed most of theirs or sold the majority in-state. Peru has changed all that."
With Peru, and ultimately China, such fierce threats, it became clear over the course of the conference that these former competitorsóincluding Ontario - need to collaborate to survive in the marketplace. And not only in marketing, but in research and development, since duplication in those dollars would leave fewer for efforts elsewhere.
"This is a radical shift in thinking, but this is the kind of innovation our industry needs to survive and thrive into the future," says Denton Hoffman, General Manager for the OAGMB. "Partnering with Michigan or Washington wonít happen overnight, but at least this meeting opened a dialogue."
The OAGMB producers have a comprehensive on-farm food safety program, and continue to work on improving their consistency in grading and quality from farm gate to retailerís shelves. "Providing the best and safest product we can from gate to plate is the first step in keeping our market share," says Wilson. "Working aggressively to create new plant varieties and new products for consumers will help us stay competitive as well."
The Ontario Asparagus Growers Marketing Board has 121 growers with over 2800 acres. The annual production is nearly ten million pounds.