The market for garlic is strong in most areas at the moment, as most nations continue to demand the flavourful bulb. Most of the garlic supply to Europe is currently coming from China and Egypt, although France still shows a strong preference for home-grown crops. In North America, much of the supply comes from South America, whilst China produces its own garlic, and focuses on export rather than import. Getting the bulbs to and from other continents continues to be more expensive than usual, as high logistics prices show no sign of going down, and high energy prices in production countries are also driving up costs.
Netherlands: Price of Chinese garlic slightly up
The market for garlic has stabilised, according to an importer in the Netherlands. The price of garlic has risen slightly. There is plenty of garlic available in China. Chinese New Year did bring some extra sales last week.
Germany: More German growers venture into garlic cultivation
The first batches of Egyptian fresh garlic are already entering the German market. Wholesale prices are around 6 euro/kg and thus very attractive compared to South African product (9 euro/kg). At the moment, most of the goods still come by air freight, so they want to switch to sea freight as soon as possible. Compared to dried garlic, green garlic is still a niche product, not least because of the competition from big players like China and Spain. Nevertheless, Egyptian dried garlic is also gaining ground between April and the summer months.
Following in the footsteps of the Netherlands, more German growers are venturing into garlic cultivation. Although sales have so far been restricted mainly to wholesalers, it seems just a matter of time before the retail sector also gets involved.
France: High demand for French grown garlic
This second part of the campaign begins very well for white and purple garlic from France.
The volumes are good, and the quality is very good because garlic has been stocked in good conditions during the harvest. The demand for French garlic is also good. Supermarkets want to have good quality garlic of French origin for as long as possible. This year looks to be a good year for all French garlic, except for the pink variety. The quality of pink garlic has been severely affected by bad weather conditions during the harvest. That's why more Spanish pink garlic has been imported this year.
Spain: Good growing season, but production costs rise due to high energy prices
At the moment, the planting of purple garlic has just finished. The earlier garlic, will be harvested this spring. The prediction seem to have been accurate and this year the area planted with garlic will increase slightly compared to last year. It should be noted that the declaration of drought in the producing areas of Andalusia has caused a displacement towards Castilla-La Mancha. Thus, the decrease in the area in Andalusia is notable, while there are increases in Castilla-La Mancha. In addition, although in recent years the planting of spring garlic has been gaining ground over that of purple garlic, this year this trend is not apparent.
Generally, the winter months are very dry in all the producing areas and with higher temperatures than usual. The growing stage is going well in early areas, although they need the support of irrigation, while in purple garlic plantations the need for irrigation is greater. All this is incurring higher production costs, as the irrigation systems work with electricity and the price of energy continues to rise.
Meanwhile, garlic prices have remained stable in the last two months and at levels similar to those of other campaigns. The market is active and trading is normal for this time of the year. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the sector has maintained a high level of operations. The increase in production and packaging costs will be reflected in the next marketing campaign.
Italy: Flat market in January 2022
According to statistics, Italian households buy garlic 3.5 times/year on average and, even if with a slight increase compared to last year (3.3), the figure has been fairly stable over the last 3 years. In 2021, 14 million Italian families (53.7%) bought garlic.
An salesman from the north of Italy says there is not much enthusiasm at the moment. Garlic sales are going on, but without high demands. The days of the 2020 when there was a rush to shop during the lockdown, are gone. In 2020, indeed, 200,000 more families bought garlic than today.
This makes it difficult to compare the today's scenario with the past recent years. In January 2022 there was a stagnation in garlic consumption and even the catering, which has not yet returned to full capacity, is not helping the business. Worries about the future or inflation are holding purchases back.
However, the storage of garlic is good and, if sales continue at the current pace, there will be enough stocks to make it through to the next harvest campaign.
Egypt: Prices set to go down as garlic volumes grow
In general, the garlic in the field this year is of very good quality. Currently the weather is very cold compared to last year, which is good for bulb formation. There should be higher quantities of fresh garlic than last year. Right now, the prices for garlic are very high. It's expected that these prices will decrease in the upcoming weeks, when the Egyptian season really starts. It should be a very challenging year in terms of shipping the products to clients. Freight rates are still very high when transporting via both air and sea, which in turn affects the prices.
China: Garlic demand grows as Chinese Spring festival arrives
In the run up to the Chinese Spring festival, overseas order volumes have begun to grow. With the increased labor price before the holiday period, the export price of garlic also showed an increase trend.
For the overseas market, the market conditions are not great at the moment. There is no market with a huge demand volume, but overseas market demand is growing compared to a few months ago. Overseas buyers are stocking up before Chinese Spring Festival slows down activity in the Chinese garlic industry. The overall order volume from overseas markets is growing. The price is also showing a slight rise. The current FOB price of #5.5 garlic is around 1,000 euro [1,128 USD] per ton.
Some European importers have switched to Spanish garlic instead, to reduce the cost price of transport. This development has an impact on Chinese garlic export. Not only is the market for Chinese garlic shrinking in the European Union, but the same is true for Central and South America. Only the demand from Eastern Europe remains stable. As for Asia, one of the greatest export markets is Indonesia. however, Indonesia has not yet announced their garlic import quota. Most suppliers have not yet shipped their garlic for Indonesia. Moreover, the rising shipping cost also affects export to Southeast Asia.
Cargo space is still difficult to find and the shipping fees remain high. And next month the new ginger season will begin, which makes cargo space even more scarce. Some exporters prefer to send their products early and that puts more pressure on ports. Activities in Chinese ports have slowed down, and ships are often delayed. The current price of express shipping from Qingdao to Europe is around 12,500-13,000 Euro per shipping container. The freight cost is expected to decrease during China Spring Festival.
For the next few weeks, domestic demand will be strong, but supply will not grow. The price of garlic may drop after the holiday period.
North America: Solid demand for garlic, but logistical issues continue
Although demand for garlic is slightly softer than last year at this time, overall demand is still strong for the popular item.
“Demand is pretty solid for garlic and continues increasing. Demand for certain products--honey, lemon, ginger, garlic--these items have obviously seen spikes in demand due to the pandemic,” says one shipper. “However, there are always more garlic fields popping up every year.”
Currently, Peru has almost finished its garlic season and should wrap up by mid to late February. “All of the garlic for February from Peru has already been harvested. It’s basically been dried and prepared for North America,” says the shipper, who notes that approximately 80 percent of the garlic going from Peru into the U.S. is in prepackaged nets. While Peru has had a good growing season, this year it has had to contend with more rain.
However getting that garlic to the U.S. is taking longer. As shippers around the world know, freight is tricky and shipping is expensive. “Usually from Peru it takes about 10 takes to ship to the U.S. Right now, there are freight options which take 30-40 days to arrive in the U.S.,” he says.
Also out of South America are garlic shipments from both Chile and Argentina, who are both in the midst of their seasons. “They ship a lot to North America and have a strong crop this year with competitive prices. But logistics are also very complicated,” says the shipper.
Also shipping garlic is China, and California will also come online later in the season with fresh crop. “Most of the garlic right now from California is refrigerated or stored garlic,” he says.
As for pricing, currently a 30 lb. box is priced at $45 FOB. “That price has increased compared to last year. And I think for February, the pricing will stay similar to that,” he adds.
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