Ginger is yet another commodity that has seen a pickup in demand throughout North America since COVID-19 began to seriously impact the continent.
“It’s been difficult trying to keep up with demand on the retail accounts for ginger,” says Kian Fattahi with Global Farms Enterprises in Los Angeles, CA. “We thought demand would drop off. But we’ve seen ginger sales stay strong and it has put a lot of stress on our supply chain. We’re also seeing a lot of revisions on orders asking for more and more product. We think demand will drop at some point but right now, it’s quite strong.”
Fattahi says that one connection to increased demand could be the juicing recommendation. (Similar to how vitamin C in citrus products was recommended to fight COVID-19, juicing with ginger has also been recommended.)
Good supplies available
Meanwhile ginger supplies right now are plentiful. “There is ample supply from Brazil, who has been shipping for a month now,” says Fattahi, who adds that Peru is near the end of its organic ginger season while Chinese ginger (found more often in foodservice than retail) is also back on track in supplies. “The issue that everyone’s contending with is getting the product here. It’s tough to keep up with the supply chains right now, particularly air freight.”
While Brazilian ginger is currently arriving by air, the problem is related to travel restrictions around international flights. With virtually no passenger travel right now, there are fewer flights carrying cargo to North America and what is available comes at an increased cost. Add to that the fact that flights could arrive anywhere in the U.S. “Booking air freight is a nightmare,” says Fattahi. “We have some product flying into Chicago but also Dallas. Usually it comes straight to LAX but there aren’t as many flights, so our grower is putting ginger on any flight into the US. That creates another challenge to then get it to L.A. from there.” That said, in a few weeks, the ginger will be mature enough to begin shipments by ocean.
All of this leaves strong pricing on ginger. “Brazil will be in the $60s. One of the driving factors of the price is freight. Every week we get quoted it’s more and more expensive,” says Fattahi. “Peru, what’s left here, is between $70-$90.” Chinese pricing meanwhile has come off as well given that supplies are available with greater regularity again.
Looking ahead, Fattahi anticipates demand continuing to stay strong on ginger. “I get calls from people serving other retailers who don’t sell ginger asking for it,” he says.