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.
- COVID-19-driven demand has caused a world-wide ginger shortage
- Fresh ginger prices have hit new records in Australia
- The new season ginger crop is now being harvested, so prices should ease
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.