Plentiful 'royal' asparagus!

Asparagus remains the most popular of the early crops. Retailers can expect to find ample supplies available from the beginning of May. Flandria guarantees an outstanding product for your spring range. Why not plan some promotional deals to boost your sales in the festive month of May?

The season is underway!
Officially, the Belgian asparagus season does not start until the third Thursday in April. After all, the outside temperature is a crucial factor in getting outdoor production going. No real peaks in production are likely before the beginning of May, because conditions then start to stay warmer at night as well. The main season for the 'queen of Flemish vegetables' runs until 24 June, the feast day of St John the Baptist. The fact that availability is so limited, coupled with its very distinctive taste, makes asparagus into an exclusive delicacy.

Plentiful supplies available
Supplies during the festive period (Mother's Day, Ascension, Whit) will be sufficiently high. From the end of April/early May, the LAVA auctions are expecting substantial supplies. May is the prime month for Flandria asparagus, with growers delivering 200,000 to 250,000 kg/week in weeks 18-21. In weeks 22-23, production hovers between 150,000 and 200,000 kg/week. Growers and auctions work hard every day to ensure that the product, in every required packaging, quickly wings its way to the customers.

Superior Flandria
Thanks to the specific, labour-intensive harvesting method, asparagus is supplied to the auction on the day it is picked, wherever possible, six days out of seven. Refrigerated transport ensures that the asparagus is super-fresh when it reaches the auction. The growers strive constantly to meet the superior Flandria standards: a guarantee of quality and respect.

• fresh appearance
• absolutely white colour (no blue or pink tinge)
• the heads are firm and undamaged
• the stalks are nicely shaped and straight
• cut off to the same length
• minimum stalk length 18 cm
• the lower part is not woody, hollow or dry

More colours and tastes
Asparagus is sold under the Flandria label in white, green and purple versions. The LAVA auctions report that consumers go for the green variety first. This translates into higher production of green asparagus. While white asparagus grows under the ground and therefore retains its pearly white colour, the green type grows in the daylight. This means that it produces chlorophyll, which gives it that handsome green colour. It also tastes stronger and has a more robust texture.
A limited amount of purple asparagus is available under the Flandria label (packed in 500 g trays). Peeled, vacuum-packed asparagus is a popular product for the catering industry and is available only to order.

Strict grading criteria
Grading is important when preparing products for market, and it relies on quality, stalk diameter, colour and length of stalk.
In the case of white Flandria asparagus, the thickness is important:
+22 AA: 22 - 28 mm
+16 A: 16 - 22 mm
+12 B: 12 - 16 mm
Green asparagus is supplied under Flandria in the same sizes plus a finer size (C 8 to 12 mm).

Smaller packages are gaining ground
The choice of packaging is designed for various target groups:
• Loose in EPS-T 5 kg: for big consumers and catering.
• 5 kg boxes loose: for export.
• Trays (500 g) under film with big advantages for the retail trade: handsome presentation plus exceptional shelf life.
• Classic bundles of asparagus (500 g) tied in cotton in the middle grade.
• Limited amounts of Flandria green and purple asparagus in trays (500 g).

Pay attention to freshness
Flandria asparagus is a fantastic product in the greengrocery department! If you look after it properly, the quality and keeping properties are guaranteed.
• Present it in the original packaging.
• Do not display it in the sun or in a draught.
• Store at 1 to 5 °C and R.H. of 90-95% to prevent it drying out.
• A cover sheet will stop it drying out.

Storage tips for customers
Advise customers to eat their Flandria asparagus fresh for the unique flavour. After all, the freshest asparagus is always the tastiest! It will keep fresh for 3 to 4 days in the vegetable drawer in the fridge, if removed from its packaging and wrapped in a damp cloth. This will stop it drying out.
Focus also on the health benefits of asparagus. It is low in calories (± 25 kcal/100 g) and rich in fibre, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc, and packed with vitamins. It is a good food for slimmers and also good for the skin. This makes it ideal for spring dishes.

Always different
Give your customers some tips for a festive table. The classic is of course 'asperges op z'n Vlaams', with melted butter, finely chopped parsley and hard-boiled egg. Canapés of marinated salmon and white/green asparagus tips are a culinary surprise. As well as being tasty when boiled, steamed, baked or grilled, asparagus is also great in a stir-fry. Green asparagus is perfect for a summery salad, with pasta and in delicious tarts. A tip for the customer is that green asparagus does not need to be peeled, because the skin is thinner than on white asparagus. Purple asparagus is perfect for salads and to garnish hot dishes.

The classic top spring vegetable!
Consumers are more and more in search of genuine quality products. Flandria asparagus is a super spring product in your greengrocery range, and a real star among vegetables: pretty on the plate, deliciously tasty and amazingly versatile.
The larger quantities available at the LAVA auctions coupled with the festive weekends ahead make a perfect match for promotional actions in store!

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