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Poor Chinese ginger harvest provides opportunity to new ginger exporters

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By George Munene

Since the coronavirus outbreak in Kenya in March ginger prices have been trending upward as the public seeks home-based immunity boosters; gingerol, an active component that makes ginger serves as a perfect immunity booster. This is compounded by the fact that up to 90 per cent of the ginger consumed in Kenya is sourced from Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, China, Ethiopia, or India.

The ginger shortage and price rise is for a variety of reasons replicated throughout the globe with disruptions in existing supply chains presenting opportunities to new ginger export markets.

China, which accounts for half the world’s ginger supply has seen its ginger harvest decline by 20 per cent owing to the June to September floods that affected October’s production and Covid-19’s disruption in the supply of farm labour. The pandemic has also seen increased demand for ginger as more people have been forced to cook and bake at home.

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“Generally, you will make a killing if you can offer ginger on wholesale right now. The Brazilian and Thailand season is ending; these countries will only come back on the market in February. It’s not a question of sales. It’s more one of being able to deliver the goods. After all, people still want to offer ginger but there aren’t any alternatives with very few ginger producers,” says Marcel Verdellen of Satori a Netherlands-based importer.

The world’s second and third largest ginger suppliers, India and Iran, have also seen their production hampered significantly. Two concurrent flood years in India have seen production drop 30 per cent while Iran has had to close its borders as it has surpassed one million coronavirus cases and 50,000 deaths.

With the Chinese ginger season just about underway, the acute shortage is projected to last well into the new year.

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Online retailers Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda’s have completely sold out of the spice online and supermarket stores across Europe are also running low on supplies and foresee being unable to meet the expected spike in demand over the Christmas period.

“This gap in the supply from China, the biggest supplier of ginger, portends great opportunities for other ginger supplying countries that have the quantities and quality to supply to European markets,” says Gabriel Bonancin of Fresh Quality which imports ginger to Europe.

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