On the global garlic market, prices are currently rising, mainly in Europe. The Spanish harvest has suffered a lot from the weather this year, resulting in a significant reduction in the production.
The demand has risen sharply, especially in North America, where it has doubled in Canada and increased by as much as 70% in the US. Worldwide, this seems to be causing shortages.
A trader in the US has already said that this year, they don’t expect competition on the market from China, Spain, Argentina, Peru and Mexico.
In China, the garlic harvest is larger this year (20-25% more), but there are serious problems with exports due to a shortage of reefer containers.
Netherlands: Garlic shortage imminent?
The situation on the garlic market is not easy, according to a Dutch importer. The Spanish harvest, for example, has been reduced by almost 45% and the available supply is also not top quality.
China has had a large and good harvest in terms of quality and size, but it has also been dealing with high demand and exporting a lot to the whole world.
Given that the global harvests are all disappointing and that North and South America have been demanding a lot, prices in Chile, Argentina and Mexico have quickly risen to levels that are far too high for the European market.
We predict that when the cold really sets in in the EU, the importers’ current stocks will run out very quickly and a shortage will arise.”
The summer supplies have been sold much quicker than usual and new arrivals from China are much more expensive, as freight costs have more than doubled and prices in China have already risen by about 50%.
In recent months, strong positions have once again been taken by local speculators, who are now unwilling to sell until after the Chinese New Year, as they expect the price to be similar to that of the previous season.
That means that there could be another price increase of another 50% for garlic in China. Furthermore, the lack of reefer containers is an issue and the Chinese currency is deteriorating against the dollar. All in all, this season could take a very strange turn.
Germany: Unexpectedly quiet garlic market
The garlic market in Germany has been unexpectedly quiet in recent weeks. When new lockdown measures were announced in October and November, traders hoped for a surge in sales similar to the one they saw in the spring. However, consumers have behaved very differently.
A major German trader believes that consumers are feeling the economic consequences of the pandemic and are reluctant to spend. As a result of the so-called “Lockdown Light” and the subsequent closure of the catering industry at the beginning of this month, the demand for garlic has also been strongly affected.
“The demand for peeled garlic – normally a typical catering item – has declined sharply in recent weeks,” says a trader.
Dry garlic currently comes mainly from Spain. Spanish growers and traders had hoped to bring prices up and were successful to some extent; however, due to the low demand, no major increases were possible.
The same applies to Chinese garlic, whose prices are comparable to those of the Spanish. There is currently fresh garlic from the Netherlands on the German market with historically high prices.
“Stocks are very low and this is driving prices up,” said a trader. “Next week we will receive the first shipments from Argentina, which has comparably low volumes and high prices.”
A major problem for the sellers of fresh or dry garlic is the increased shipping costs, which have doubled compared to last year and are still increasing.
The planting for the next season has started in Germany and Spain, and things are looking good thanks to the favorable weather. In the long run, the rise of fresh garlic of German origin has been remarkable.
“Unlike what we see with the popular dried garlic, in the fresh segment we face little or no competition from cheap imports from China. Moreover, we don’t need long transport routes to reach our sales markets, and we deliver an attractive local product. This concept is attractive for consumers,” says a North German grower who markets his production between June and August.
United Kingdom: Spanish garlic preferred over the Chinese
Stocks in the United Kingdom are good. Imports currently come mainly from Spain and China. Spanish garlic is preferred because there are fewer stories circulating about its quality. There is also a boycott against peeled garlic from China.
France: Rising demand for domestic product
There is a shortage of French garlic due to the bad weather conditions this year. The dry weather in particular has taken its toll. The demand is quite good, which ensures reasonable prices for the growers.
Competition from other markets is actually not as great as last year. The French and Spanish harvests are quite popular, mainly because there are smaller volumes of Chinese garlic available on the European market.
Spain: Rising price due to lower supply
Due to the abundant and persistent rainfall in the main garlic producing areas, production volumes have been reduced in the summer. Rains at the time of the harvest are very detrimental to the product’s appearance.
Even though the internal quality of the garlic has improved this year compared to the previous season, the excessive rains have caused significant skin damage to a considerable part of the garlic, resulting in a shortage of premium product this year.
As a result, prices have risen, reaching € 3.60 per kilo at origin. According to a trader, there is a lot of speculation among Spanish growers this year, as many refuse to sell because they are awaiting a price increase.
This is causing a greater shortage of garlic and supermarkets are therefore forced to import more from other countries, such as China or Argentina, where prices are much more affordable.
Italy: Garlic prices constantly increasing
The Italian season started in late June-early July. The quality of the product has been satisfactory for the growers in terms of yield and quality. There have also not been many problems with the drying.
There is 10% more garlic this year compared to the previous season. A garlic grower from Central Italy says that sales are going well this season.
In terms of prices, there has been a slight overall increase due to strong demand during the March-April lockdown. Most Italian supermarket chains have the domestic product on their shelves.
Foreign chains, on the other hand, most of which are discount stores, offer Spanish or Chinese goods. There is a clear difference in the price: that of the Spanish product is higher and the Chinese is cheaper.
According to a trader in Campania, the garlic market is showing a fairly constant trend. However, prices continue to rise at the moment, especially for the Spanish product, due to the reduced supply.
The price is up by about 35%, with a 10-15% increase in the demand compared to the same period last year. Recently, the demand for Italian niche garlic (such as the Sulmona, Eufita or Nubia, and many other typical Italian ones) has also increased.
The demand for such special types of garlic is also increasing on a European scale. In general, we can expect stable prices for the end of the year and early 2021, even if taking into account the start of the Argentinian garlic season. There is strong demand for this product from the US, Canada, Taiwan and also from Europe.
South Africa: Local produce struggles with competition from imports
The domestic garlic production has already started, but many growers are struggling to compete with the imported product, especially due to the unusual amount of garlic that has been imported this year.
Retailers in South Africa also prefer the imported product because it guarantees a year-round supply. The average market price at the moment is 35.84 ZAR (€ 1.98) per kilo.
United States: Explosive increase in the demand for garlic
The demand for garlic is currently reaching extreme heights in the US. Compared to last year, there has been up to 70% more demand.
Besides citrus, garlic is another of the products benefiting from the coronavirus pandemic, as it has given a boost to its consumption. The fact that people are cooking more at home and making more of an effort is also playing a role.
This season, California’s garlic production has increased and has been able to absorb a 20-25% increase in the demand over the next 12 months.
At the beginning of the summer, many traders and growers had expected that this increase could even lead to an oversupply of garlic and had already given part of the volumes to the processing industry.
Now that December is approaching, these lots are being pushed back on the shelves. The volumes for the industry are now mainly supplied from abroad, with pre-peeled garlic from Spain, Argentina and Mexico.
“Normally, we supply the industry with our own productions, but this year everything is different,” said a trader from California.
Prices have increased by about 5-10%, but many growers believe this is more a result of the measures against the coronavirus than of the market itself.
Due to the increased demand worldwide, US traders don’t expect any competition with the garlic from Spain, Argentina and China this year. Nevertheless, the Chinese harvest is also 20-25% greater this season.
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Canada: Consumption has doubled
Globally, Canada is one of the countries with the highest per capita garlic consumption. Due to the coronavirus, that demand has doubled compared to a normal year.
The demand for peeled garlic from the food service sector has dropped by 80-90 percent; however, with the holiday season ahead, the retail demand for fresh garlic will remain strong.
Normally, the demand for garlic grows by 30% in December, but many traders also expect it to double due to the coronavirus.
The price is now stable and even slightly lower than last year, but between now and the end of July, traders expect the price to rise by 20%.
Peru: Less garlic, but more demand
The season started on time in October, although the country’s total yield will fall by about 20% this year. This is due to the import of garlic seeds being hindered by the coronavirus in China.
In any case, the volumes available are of good quality and the demand is also good. Peru mostly produces red and purple garlic and these varieties are mainly demanded by Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia.
Due to the low volumes coming from Spain this year, Peru is seeing a good demand in Europe. In general, garlic is also in high demand because of its health benefits and because consumers around the world are cooking more at home.
Due to the high demand and shorter supply, prices are also high. They are similar to those of 2016, when China had a poor harvest.
Argentina: Weaker peso leads to greater demand on global market
The South American country will start with the harvest in early December and the prospects for the upcoming season are promising.
Unlike in Peru, there haven’t been many problems with the purchase of seeds. The demand for Argentinian garlic is expected to increase this year due to the low value of the Argentinian peso.
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China: Stable garlic market, but export price has risen
In 2020, the Chinese garlic production has been plentiful and the quality better than in previous years. The price initially fell due to the large production volume.
In general, the domestic garlic market has remained stable since the arrival of the new crop. The price has not yet shown any major fluctuations. This year there have therefore been fewer traders speculating on the garlic market.
The new planting season started a month ago. The total acreage devoted to garlic has been reduced, but the production volume will depend on the weather conditions in the next two months.
If frost reduces the garlic production volume, the price will probably increase; however, the price is likely to remain stable over the next two months.
The total export of Chinese garlic has increased this year. There have been problems with the distribution of reefer containers in recent months; a problem that has become quite serious in Asian markets.
Besides, maritime shipping has slowed down, further increasing the shortage of reefer containers in port cities such as Shanghai, Ningbo, Qingdao and Lianyungang. The standard 40 ft refrigerated sea container is in high demand and there is not enough supply.
Between July and August of this year, Europe imported large quantities of garlic. Due to the health crisis, restaurants have been closed, the market demand has declined and delivery speeds have slowed down.
The volumes of white garlic in storage will be sufficient to meet the market demand in the next two months. Over that time, garlic exporters expect the demand to remain relatively stable.
Some garlic exporters used to pay the fees, insurance and freight (CIF) costs for most of their Southeast Asian export transactions, but many large companies are now unwilling to include shipping costs in their price, so they are switching to Freight On Board (FOB). Currently, the FOB price for garlic is around 1200 USD / ton.
Australia: Domestic production up by 33%, but imports remain the most important
Australia is a very small producer of garlic, with imports far exceeding the production. According to the latest Hort Innovation statistics, in the season that ended in June 2019, 2,812 tons were produced domestically; an increase of 33% compared to the previous year.
The value also jumped to AUD 19.3 million (26% higher than in 2018). 88 tons were exported, while imports increased by 7%, to 13,060 tons.
Most of those imports came from China (9,810 tons). Here 5% of the domestic production goes to the processed market.
Credit: Fresh Plaza