The new ginger crop is now in full swing in China and will be prepared for export to Europe from December, after which the first goods will usually arrive after the turn of the year. According to initial information, both the yield and the quality of the Chinese tuber vegetable should be pleasing, as Ralf Settels from Jiahe Food GmbH tells us. "There has been an area expansion in the country, which is why larger export quantities will probably be available now."
Whether the quantities will actually be shipped to Europe, however, is uncertain, he says. "More and more ginger is flowing into other markets. Peru now exports about 70 per cent of the total export volume to the US. In terms of the new crop, we are in the situation where the Peruvians have a smaller crop, while in China there are quite abundant yields available. As far as I know, container prices from China to the USA have also become somewhat cheaper in the meantime, which is why the Chinese are also looking for new markets. The big unknown now is how big the volumes will ultimately be that are left for the Western European market."
Due to higher market prices compared to Peru, Chinese ginger has lost importance in Europe in recent years. "As expected, China will regain market share in the coming year," says Settels, pointing to the remaining months of this year's season. "In December and January, i.e. during the rainy season in Peru, there is usually less produce freshly harvested from the field. At the same time, China is in the traditional hole between the old and new harvests until then, so it can become critical again during this period. Currently, raw material prices for both origins are already well above average with stable demand. From mid-January at the earliest, the market situation will then relax a lot."
Ralf Settels (right) at Fruit Logistica 2023
The food retail sector had not passed on the price increases one-to-one and had only recently carried out a price adjustment in the markets. "It would have been possible to react to market developments earlier. Despite inflation, I don't see any buying restraint this year. We have even been able to place more volume compared to last year. Interestingly, Chinese ginger is the most popular despite the higher selling prices by 0.50-1.00 euros/kg compared to Peru, which in turn is related to the tuber size. Consumers take an average of two to three tubers per purchase, and it is not uncommon for the Chinese product to be twice as big."
Sweet potatoes and turmeric
Settels observes a similar trend with sweet potatoes of the Belvedere and Beauregard varieties, which are mainly sourced from South Africa and Portugal. "After we switched to L-calibre, sales tripled, even though the smaller produce was picture-perfect. At the moment we are trading Spanish goods and we are sticking with the larger calibre for now." Peruvian turmeric rounds off the Jiahe Food GmbH range. "Its sales have meanwhile become somewhat weaker again, which I think is also partly due to the discolouration during processing in the kitchen."
New growing countries
In terms of volume, ginger remains the main product of Jiahe Food GmbH. "I continue to see growth potential in ginger processing, such as ginger shots. Especially in the ginger market, new production countries will be added in the coming years, in places such as Central America. In the end, it is not only the quality but above all the shelf life of the ginger that is decisive," concludes Settels.