Ginger prices skyrocket to record highs amid worldwide shortage | Ralph-Lauren

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The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a global ginger shortage and record prices as demand outstrips supply after hot and dry conditions last year resulted in small yields from Australian paddocks.

The price of fresh ginger has more than doubled compared to this time last year, with customers paying an average of $55 a kilogram at major supermarkets.

Australian Ginger Growers Association president Shane Templeton said demand for ginger had risen around the world because of COVID-19.

“I guess it comes down to the health benefits of ginger,” he said.

Ginger in a basket priced at $55/kg.
Even at $55/kg there’s potential for a bargain of sorts in this basket, because the supermarket would have paid more for the darker ginger.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

‘Like gold’

The prices vary depending on transport costs and competition in central markets.

On the ABC Rural Facebook page Danelle Bartels said she was treating fresh ginger “like gold” after paying a staggering $71.99/kg in Victoria.

A receipt showing the price of ginger at $71.99/kg.
Danelle Burns says at $71.99/kg in her local store, she is treating fresh ginger “like gold”.(Supplied: Danelle Burns)

Despite prices hovering between $50-$60/kg in most supermarkets, growers were being paid around $20/kg for new season ginger and $30/kg for old season ginger.

Depending on demand, prices are expected to ease as harvest volumes increase in the coming months.

“The new crop is hitting the market even as we speak, so the talk back from agents to us is there’s a lot more ginger this week,” Mr Templeton said.

“The new crop is coming on and it looks like it’s going to be a good crop.

A lady wearing a red shirt smiles, with workers on a production line behind her.
Kylie Templeton says new season ginger is good value for money.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

New ginger the new old

Eighteen months ago prices were so low that growers were barely covering the cost of production amid hot and dry growing conditions.

“Because the yields were so low last year, if you actually don’t get a little bit higher price per kilogram, you don’t survive,” Mr Templeton said.

“With the higher prices people have been able to invest back in their farms, they’ve been able to put more ginger in, more infrastructure in, so they can grow more.”

Mr Templeton’s sister Kylie said ginger lovers could get value for money by purchasing the fresh season ginger which is lighter in colour and should be cheaper in price.

“If people can change over to the new season product, they’re actually getting a really lovely flavour, but they’ve just got to use it a little bit quicker than the old season,” she said.

“It’s more the storage of the product — you’ve just got to use new season ginger a little bit quicker.”

Ginger can be frozen and pulled out when required for cooking, but any leftovers need to be returned to the freezer before they turn to mush.

White and pink ginger in a box next to darker ginger in a box.
New season ginger is white and pink and should be cheaper compared to old season ginger, which is darker, more spicy and has a longer shelf life.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

Consumers asked to dig deep

The shortage has created challenges for processors who use ginger in everything from beer to confectionary.

“It’s going to be hard again this year, but we are looking at a much bigger crop,” Mr Templeton said.

“One farmer said to me you can be assured when there’s a high price there’s a low price coming after it, because everyone will plant ginger and there will be a surplus somewhere.”

Huge vats of peeled ginger on a processing floor.
The Ginger Factory at Yandina processes ginger for confectionary and beverages.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

Buderim Ginger CEO Andrew Bond said he hoped consumers would continue to support the family-owned company’s range of ginger beer, cordials and confectionaries, which have been made in Australia for 80 years.

“The world-wide ginger shortage is going to be putting a lot of pressure on us and our ability to supply our products,” he said.

Ginger on a conveyor belt.
Ginger being washed and trimmed before sale.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

Overseas, supplied have run so short that some European supermarkets have run out of dried spice, but that may ease now that China’s picking season is underway.

Ginger can easily be grown in sub-tropical gardens, but the Australian industry has faced multi-million dollar challenges dealing with soil-borne diseases like pythium.

Extreme caution must be taken when sharing rhizomes, to prevent the spread of disease.

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