Argentina: San Juan benefits from global shortage of garlic

"We've been told that there's a global shortage of garlic," José Luis Ginestar, a producer from the department of Pocito stated. "Argentina has planted very few white garlic. There are between 700 and 800 hectares in San Juan, the main producing province. The other provinces mainly grow red and pink garlic," he said. 

The harvest of purple bulbs to make strings of garlic, which only accounts for 5% of the local crop, started about 15 days ago. The outlook for this sector has improved for those producers that survived a complex crisis, as the global shortage of garlic will improve prices and opportunities.

The surface devoted to the production of garlic in San Juan and in Argentina has declined in the last six campaigns because of a mix of factors: an extreme drought, a widespread decline in prices in international markets, an increase in costs, and a very stable dollar in face of the widespread devaluation of currencies in consumer nations and competitor nations.

"There's never much talk about prices and sales at this time of the year. Producers and buyers are quiet too," said Jose Luis Ginestar.

Two weeks ago, the garlic used to make strings of garlic had prices ranging between $10 and $12 per kilogram at origin. The harvest of white and pink garlic should begin in the last week of October or in the first week of November. San Juan has very little purple garlic planted, i.e. between 10 and 15% of the surface.

World trade
Underneath this calm exterior, things are starting to move. Foreign buyers are starting to send mails, make calls, and visit agenda, among other things.

Alfredo Figueroa confirmed it: "Thank God European and American businessmen that are interested in our garlic have started contacting us. It seems that there's not enough garlic in the global market. "

"There's a low production in several producing countries because of different reasons. Additionally, Argentina's low production due to the high costs and a flat dollar complicated the bulb's international competitiveness in the world market. These are the same difficulties faced by all regional economies. It should be noted hat 60% or more of the local garlic is allocated to Mendoza's packaging to improve its sorting both in size and quality," he added.

Case by case
Among other things, Figueroa spoke about the garlic sector throughout the world.

"Brazil controls the price of garlic, especially of the pink variety, but they currently have no stock or volume," he said.
Regarding the European Union, he said, "Europe only has reserves of garlic until the end of the year for various reasons. Spain, France, Italy, and Germany are the nations that are most interested in solving this lack of stock."

According to rumors, he said, China doesn't have enough supply to meet its own demand. However, he added, China is always a mystery. 

Mexico, he noted," has a very good demand of treated garlic and the US has had some difficulties with their stock and are buying much garlic from Spain. The truth is that they had many water issues and thus had a small production."

As for the domestic market, he said, "Argentina is a small market and currently the prices and the demand is stable because of a significant reduction in the cultivated area."


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