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Argentina: Garlic exporters expect a rebound in prices

The province's garlic harvest started and the producers that export it expect prices will rebound after five bad years.

According to them, the decline in supply is a result of the drastic reduction in acreage due to the product's lack of competitiveness, this harvest's good health, and the expectation that the US demand has a better price than last year, as a result of the trade war with their competitor, China, might help the sector.

The smaller producers are pessimistic because they don't think the internal market will pay enough to cover the production costs. This year, San Juan only grew 600 hectares of garlic, 450 of which were white garlic for export and 150 of which were the purple or Chinese variety. The harvest of the Chinese variety already came to an end but the harvest of the white garlic is still in process.

"We have expectations this year because the product's health has been good and we are expectant to see how the product is marketed. We expect a rise in prices compared to last year, although we're a little bummed out because the official dollar remains low," said Javier GarcĂ­a, president of the Chamber of Manufacturers, Packers, Exporters of Garlic.

"This year, the US market is better. Now, we have to gather our offer, harvest and wait for buyers. We hope they'll come in 10 or 20 days so we can start negotiating prices. We hope to make a few extra dollars this year," said Garcia, who added that a 10-kilo box of white garlic was being sold, in average, between 17 and 20 dollars last year.

"There's more demand in the field. More people are coming to buy. Last year, there were fewer buyers," stated producer Alfredo Figueroa. "There are orders, but we still don't know the prices. I hope they improve because our costs are very high, but we can only hope," he added. Bruno Perin added that international prices were not bad, but he warned that the exchange rate and the sector's lack of competitiveness complicated marketing the garlic.

"The United States seems to be the exception, as it's not in good relations with China and it might do something with us," he said. Traditionally, San Juan's white garlic is first destined for Europe and then to the United States, but growers say it will be difficult to compete in Europe this year, as the countries are in search of low prices. Antonio Moyano, a producer of Chinese garlic for the domestic market, thinks this year will be painful. "The small producers, that have 2, 3 or 5 hectares have taken our garlic to the sheds, but we don't know what the price will be," he complained.

Source: Diario de Cuyo

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