More than 400 exhibitors and 6,000 visitors attended the ExpoSE trade fairs, specialised in asparagus and berries, and ExpoDirekt, for direct sales, in Karlsruhe (Germany). Despite the concerns felt about the show Simon Schumacher, General Manager of VSSE, Association of Asparagus and Strawberry Producers of the Southern Germany, said he was satisfied with this edition which had a higher attendance than expected in a positive and dynamic atmosphere, and sometimes with some exhibitors having some unexpected contacts from Egyptian or Swedish visitors. Asparagus trade show ExpoSE hosted the first IAM, International Asparagus Meeting co-organised with Asparagus World magazine. In a European market of about 300,000 tons, Germany, a major player with 120,000 tons is currently experiencing a drop in production and consumption of about 15%. German technicians are finding, “With the increase in production and labour costs, some farming methods are no longer profitable.” This country, which has experienced the biggest increase over the last ten years, has also experienced a sharp drop in production since 2017. This year was also marked by a decline in asparagus consumption by German consumers, hitherto “European champions”.
Prototypes of harvesting robots
The same was true for the eight IAM stakeholders. Common concerns are mainly focused on the difficulty of recruiting labour for harvesting which has led to several prototypes of harvesting robots such as the one for green asparagus made by Muddy Machines currently under development in the United Kingdom. However, the labour costs presented by the speakers show marked differences: ranging from 35 euros per day in Greece to 17.63 euros per hour in the Netherlands.
Faced with a difficult 2022 campaign assessment, the project for a European observatory of asparagus production was led by Christian Befve, international consultant at IAM. “The 33rd Spargeltag – asparagus day – addressed more technical topics such as the use of plastic films, the prevention of browning of the spear, the robotisation of the harvest,” says Isabelle Kokula, asparagus advisor and organizer of the day.