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Austria - Not much Swiss asparagus available due to the weather

Because of the cooler weather the Swiss asparagus hardly grew at all. The retail offerings are therefore small. The best option for Swiss asparagus is direct sales in the farm shop.

Although the weather outlook is currently better and temperatures are rising again, only small amounts can be harvested on the Easter weekend, according to the Association of Swiss Vegetable Producers (VSGP). As a result, only few Swiss asparagus can be found in the retail trade.

Austria: rising trend

In Austria, this year’s asparagus season begins early: The favorable weather of recent weeks is causing a slightly premature start to the season for the asparagus spears, which are becoming increasingly popular with the consumer.

Asparagus production currently covers 800 hectares in Austria. Lower Austria has the largest share with 580 hectares, the rest is distributed among Upper Austria, Carinthia, Styria and Burgenland. In Upper Austria, the acreage is currently being expanded even more: “In 2018, some other Upper Austrian vegetable growers decided to start growing asparagus too. But as these young plants can not yet be harvested this year, these areas will not become profitable until 2020,” said Agriculture Minister Max Hiegelsberger.

Particularly in wholesale, supplies from abroad are so strong that for Austrian asparagus only the lowest prices are being paid. As a result, the asparagus acreage is stagnating in Austria as a whole, although the asparagus is in line with the trend and overall consumption is increasing slightly. This is also due to the high wage and labor costs for harvest workers and seasonal workers in Austria compared to competing countries.

“The minimum wage per hour in Germany is € 9.10; in Austria it is € 11.80. Per hectare of asparagus, depending on the company organization and technical equipment, between 1,000 and 1,200 manpower hours are required, which gives a competitive disadvantage of at least €2,800 per hectare for neighboring Germany alone,” says Agriculture Councillor Max Hiegelsberger.

‘Asparagus consumption will continue to increase in the future’

“We expect that asparagus consumption will continue to increase over the next few years, something we are assuming in particular because our domestic per capita consumption of 0.8 kilograms is only half that of Germany or Switzerland. The only question is whether the framework conditions for asparagus producers can be put in place in such a way that these additional volumes can be produced domestically,” says Reiscker, President of the Chamber of Agriculture of Upper Austria.

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