South African ginger market is white-hot

South Africans have been swapping social media horror stories on the price of supermarket ginger, as a shortage develops on the market, driving the price “through the roof” (according to a trader).

The domestic season will start in earnest next month, but ginger growers have followed the market's lead and started their campaign earlier.

Right: Limpopo ginger crop from last year

A Lowveld ginger grower says their ginger is still young, but they’ve started harvesting small amounts of it to capitalise on the hot market.

“The ginger is still immature so you wouldn’t take it out unless the price makes it worthwhile, otherwise you won’t break even. The ginger at this stage could still multiply a lot more, so for the South African grower to take out ginger now, the price has to be good and yes, the price is very good at the moment.”

He adds that immature ginger needs to be consumed quickly.

The current price is R300 (16.6 euros) per kilogram, demand driven by a heightened appreciation of ginger’s medicinal properties and its concomitant increased consumption by South Africans.

An 8kg box of ginger cost him R2,200 (122 euros) on the market yesterday, tells a Pretoria greengrocer. The price is expected to reach R500 (28 euros) per kilogram next week, he adds.

Ginger: best-performing vegetable of past 5 years
On the other hand, this is par for the course for ginger which has been performing exceptionally over the past five year, notes Jaco Oosthuizen, CEO of the RSA Group, fresh produce marketing agency.

High-quality South African ginger currently on the Johannesburg market (photo supplied by Jaco Oosthuizen)

“Ginger prices have been elevated for a while now – throughout all of last year the prices were very strong. In general, ginger’s price rises more strongly than that of any other vegetables and in fact, ginger has been the top performing vegetable in South Africa over the past few years.”

He’s convinced, he says, that demand won’t dwindle but instead will be met by a rise in volumes as more farmers – those who have the soil and the humidity – will grow ginger.

It does, he notes, have a 9 months-long growing period. It is labour-intensive and Covid has had an impact on the available domestic volumes.

There is some "beautiful"  domestic ginger on the market, he points out; good ginger farmers are making hay this season.

The local shortage has been supplemented by organic Zambian ginger, apart from Chinese imports.


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