US imports increasing More and more asparagus is being sold by UK supermarkets according to George Smith, UK market representative for Asparagus USA, the consortium of four of the US's largest export producers ­ California, Orgeon, Washington and Michigan. With the season only weeks away and extending until June, Smith is confident this expansion will continue. "The total UK market rose from 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes in 1999," he said. "It is a real growth industry, with every indication that producers cannot keep up with demand." US growers ­ backed by promotions including instore tastings, which will continue this year ­ saw UK imports rise in 1999 to 727 tonnes, from 497 tonnes the previous season. This makes it the second largest supplier after Spain, and still ahead of Peru, where vast acreages have been planted. "The US recorded a 25% increase," said Smith. "The import market as a whole rose from 2,733 tonnes to 2,865 tonnes." {{FRESH PRODUCE }}