Garlic producers in the province of Mendoza expect this will be a complex season. They also estimate that there will be a reduction in area in the next season, as a result of low international prices and low expectations that they rebound as the existing stock in other countries decreases.
Green garlic prices currently stand at around $30 to $40 per kilo, which is well below the $50 to $55 achieved last year, stated Jose Spitalieri, a producer and packer from Kilometer 8 (Guaymallén). According to Spitalieri, this decrease in value isn't due to an increase in the cultivated area, but to the small to medium size of the production due to adverse weather. The producer said he was waiting for the orders from Europe to start arriving on December 15, but acknowledged that there is little enthusiasm.
State of the international market
The high temperatures and droughts in Spain have seriously affected their production. That's why most of their production is of medium calibers and they barely have calibers 6 or 7, stated Fabian Fusari, president of the Association of Producers, Packers, and Exporters of Garlic, Onions, and Related Products of the Province of Mendoza (Asocamen). However, since they are offering the product at low prices and have an excellent system of cold rooms - which allows them to supply the product throughout the year - Spanish buyers, as well as those from other countries in Europe, have access to economic garlic and are in no hurry to come looking for the Argentinean product.
Moreover, Fusari said, Brazil has greatly improved the quality of the garlic it produces, getting rid of viruses and increasing its refrigeration and packaging capacity. However, he added, it is unlikely that they have become self-sufficient because they consume a lot of garlic. Brazilian importers, however, are not oblivious to the global recession and have begun to buy the product but very slowly. It's probable that the pace of purchases starts to accelerate from January 15 to 20, when their own production stocks begin to fall, he said.
Taiwan used to be a very strong market and took the caliber 4 and 5 garlic, he added. It was a very important destination for Mendoza in the last 10 years. However, exports to this market have slowed down because it is demanding high quality and the product is very clean, without any roots or soil.
There are other producers worldwide, such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, and Poland, that have small productions and that do not reach certain quality standards, but they offer their garlic at economic prices and occupy small portions of the market; with much lower costs than those of Argentina, he stated.