Meijer said a strong Michigan harvest is driving an increase in asparagus sales, as the retailer is expected to sell more than 2 million pounds this summer.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer said asparagus season tends to begin around Mother’s Day but cooler temperatures delayed it about a week, giving growers extra time for additional preparation, mowing and fertilization. Add in that Memorial Day was the perfect time for grill season and family gatherings, and asparagus sales doubled last week.
"Customers at Meijer stores from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan's Upper Peninsula began to take advantage of the late harvest season last week in a big way," Meijer Producer Buyer Scott Calandra said. "Our local growers have done a great job in providing some of the freshest asparagus available. Throughout the summer, the stalks purchased in-store were harvested only a day or two prior."
The retailer said it has been making a point to keep its own brand fresh produce sourced from local growers, increasing those partnerships over the last two decades and now works with more than 200 local growers across the Midwest to shorten the time and distance of getting its produce from the fields to the shelves.
Calandra said the local asparagus growers Meijer partners with are often family-owned and continue to perfect sustainable harvesting techniques. Because Michigan is one of the top producers in the country, locally-grown asparagus can also be found at stores throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio.
In Michigan, local growers and suppliers include Todd Greiner Farms in Hart, Richter Farms in Decatur, American Asparagus in New Era, and North Bay Produce in Traverse City. In other Midwestern states, Meijer partners with Melon Acres in Oaktown, Ind., and Alsum Farms and Produce in Friesland, Wis.
"While families cooked at home more than ever last year and were looking for healthier vegetables to add to their tables, this is the year of reconnecting with friends and being outside," Calandra said. "So, we expect customers will continue seeing the benefits of our Michigan harvest throughout a memorable summer."