Peru has been gaining ground in the global ginger market in recent years and become the world's fourth largest exporter of this vegetable, whose demand has experienced a strong rebound in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and the rising consumption of healthy food.
One of the players in the ginger sector that has observed the rise of this product in the international markets has been Kion Export. “We started in 2007 exporting mangoes to the Chilean market. Later, we started working with ginger, which we supplied to supermarkets in Peru and Chile, and in 2010, we sent our first exports to the US,” says Marco Ortega, Commercial Manager of the company. “Now we export to the US, Europe, Russia, Japan, Colombia and Chile. And we continue to grow. We are currently in the middle of the ginger and turmeric campaign and we are shipping about 6-7 containers per week."
In addition to working with growers in Peru's producing areas, the company has its own production. "Every year we plant between 60 and 80 hectares to be able to fulfill the annual contracts we have with supermarket distributors in different countries around the world," says Ortega. “We have our own fields, our own packing house and we are direct marketers. We also have a GlobalGAP certification at field level and an organic certification for the United States, Europe and Japan at field, plant and marketing levels, as well as the Primus Standard for packing with HACCP. We also have the GRASP and SMETA certifications of responsibility,” says Marco Ortega. "We have been implementing new certifications to meet the requirements of each of our customers around the world."
Supply to the US and Europe all year round
"Our most important market since 2007 has been the United States; however, for the past 7 years we have been gradually gaining ground in the European market," says Ortega. “At the moment, 70% of our export volume goes to the US and 30% to Europe, but we continue to grow and our goal is to find more European importers and distributors.”
"For the US market, we export the ginger by sea practically all year round. We only ship it by air during two weeks in May. However, exports to Europe go by sea from July to March. In the months of April, May and June, ginger and turmeric are shipped by air because the weather during the growing period and the maritime transit time of 21 days cause the product not to arrive in optimal conditions,” he says.
"We have increased planting by 15% for next year"
Despite the global increase in the demand for ginger and the reduction in exports from China, which has increased the volumes intended for its own domestic market, the increase in the Peruvian production has allowed Kion Export to meet the requirements of its customers. However, they are planning new investments to expand their plantations and infrastructure.
“We have increased planting by 15% for next year. As a processing company, we are also investing in technology and research. In Peru, no thorough study has been made on the good management of ginger, so we are investing in this to ensure that the product reaches its destination in the best possible conditions,” says Ortega. "We are also automating our processes to reduce the need for labor in our packing plant."
Social responsibility is important for Kion Export, which works with communities in the Costa, Sierra and Selva of Peru. “We are proud to have formalized the situation of 100 families from the ginger-producing regions in Peru, where there is plenty of irregularity. We continue working on that to ensure that workers have all the benefits they deserve by law."
A good alternative to coffee and coca
The boom in the global demand for ginger has positioned this product as a good alternative for Peruvian growers. “Many producers who were devoted to coffee and were affected by the rust disease a few years ago are switching to the production of ginger and are training to be able to deliver a very good product,” says Ortega. "Ginger has also motivated many farmers who were engaged in the informal production of coca to make the switch to formal agriculture," he says.
Ginger production is mainly carried out in the department of Junín, which has optimal conditions for its cultivation almost all year round. “The only difficulty now, which we see every year, is that during the rainy season, landslides occur on many hills and roads are blocked. That is a problem, because the ginger-producing area where the containers are loaded is 12 hours away from the port of Callao, where it is shipped. Another difficulty that the excessive rains are causing is that they make it impossible to harvest. That means that our production of 6 to 7 containers per week is reduced to about 4 containers.”
In addition to ginger, Kion Export markets other products, including turmeric, a vegetable with anti-cancer properties whose demand has increased in Europe. "This is especially the case in Spain, where we export a very good volume of organic turmeric by air from March to June," he says. "What we want to offer now is dehydrated turmeric and ginger, always aiming to add value to these products."