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Garlic shortage while ginger demand spikes

The hottest fresh lines currently are lemons, garlic and ginger as temperatures drop across South Africa and the lockdown, which was originally to have ended today, extends until the end of the month. 

In lemons, South Africa is self-sufficient this time of the year, although the domestic market currently has to compete with a very strong export market pulling a lot of stock.

Last week the lemon price shot up by 22% to R10.27 (0.5 euros) per kilogram, falling back to R9.42 (0.46 euros) this week as lemon harvesting picks up after Easter weekend.

Garlic shortage
South African garlic producers are finding it more difficult to reap the benefits of a current very high garlic price – around R88 per kilogram (4.3 euros), partly because this is the planting season but also because a number of large garlic producers have ceased garlic production over the past two years, says Corrie Bezuidenhout, chairperson of the South African Garlic Growers’ Association.

“Many of our producers lose hope after a year or two, because once it is packaged and shipped to the market it does not sell. A few of our leading producers have left the industry over the last two years as it became unprofitable to farm with garlic. This has directly contributed to the current shortage of garlic."

The shortfall in garlic is compounded by logistical delays from Spain and China, whence garlic is imported to South Africa and eroding the market share of domestic garlic producers, he says.

The South African garlic harvest is due to start in September again.

Huge spike in ginger demand
There has been a similar spike in demand for ginger, with a huge increase in requests from their supermarket clients, a fresh produce broker says, who sources all of his required ginger locally.

On the market ginger is scarce. In the field ginger roots are still small. Farmers aren’t comfortable taking out of all of their immature rhizomes now, despite the excellent prices. The harvesting season starts in June.

Last week ginger prices rose to R110 (5.42 euros) per kilogram, not the highest price it has ever obtained (Chinese and Thai imports pull down the price spikes) but around R20 (0.98 euro) above the usual price this time of the year, a ginger grower says.

At the Cape Town market, furthest away from the ginger production areas in eastern Limpopo, prices are still very high, but inland it has come down to R60 (2.95 euros) to R80 (3.94 euros) this week.

Interest in turmeric rhizomes has also risen.