The garlic harvest is now in full swing in Spain, both in Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha, and it will soon start also in the northern producing areas. Unlike last season, when significant volumes of garlic had to be discarded due to adverse weather conditions taking a toll on the quality of the product, this year volumes are recovering and the acreage has grown slightly.
"Last season, the demand for garlic was higher than the supply and prices remained at optimal levels throughout the season. Due to the product shortages, we were not able to meet all the orders we received," says Juan Carlos Navarro, manager of Big Garlic, "This year, prospects are better than last season. If the weather remains favorable, we could have a full harvest. The product has an excellent quality and there's a wide range of calibers, which is what you usually see in years with a normal production," he says.
"As for prices, it is still early for them to stabilize, as the garlic is still fresh and most of the production is currently in the field. At this point, it is still difficult to know what trend the market will follow in the coming weeks. From mid-June for Spring garlic and from early July for Purple garlic, the market conditions will be more defined. For the time being, the demand is good, although there is strong competition from Chinese garlic in the international markets. The Asian giant can maintain very low prices, compared to the European production. This is what it has been doing in recent years, and why we must aim to compete in terms of sustainability and food safety, not prices," says the producer and exporter.
The company produces and markets both fresh and fresh-cut garlic, processed in its modern facilities in Las Pedroñeras, in the province of Cuenca. There has been a significant development in recent years, but this market has been severely disrupted since the outbreak of the pandemic.
"Since the COVID-19 crisis started, the sale of peeled garlic cloves has been greatly affected due to the closure of the horeca channel, which is their main buyer. Little by little, as more people are vaccinated worldwide, there appears to be some recovery, although we'll still have to wait for normality to return. In contrast to this, the decline in pre-prepared convenience food sales has been offset by a growth in fresh garlic sales in the retail," he says.
Big Garlic is specialized in marketing in Europe and third countries such as the United States, among others. "Due to last year's low supply we were not able to ship all the goods requested from third countries. This year, although we will have more volumes, we are dealing with a rise in sea freight prices, which have tripled in recent months due to problems also associated with the pandemic. This will make logistics for exports much more expensive," says Juan Carlos Navarro.