Garlic and ginger prices to rise sharply over coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak in China is expected to push the prices of garlic and ginger. China is the world's largest exporter of these aromatics, responsible for 80 percent of all garlic in the world. In the Netherlands, 75 percent of all ginger and 66 percent of all garlic comes from China, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. And the doors of the Chinese warehouses full of garlic bulbs and ginger roots have been closed for weeks, NOS reports.

"There has been nothing from China since the end of January," Dutch importer Danny Deen of Denimpex said to the broadcaster. "And it is not yet clear when the warehouses will open again." Deen and other importers are looking to Spain, Chile or Egypt to fill their stocks.

And the scarcity is already pushing prices, Deen said. The price for garlic from Spain increased by almost 25 percent, from 2.20 euros per kilo to 2.80 euros, within a few weeks. And ginger is even worse. "On 30 January a box of 13 kilograms of ginger cost 22 euros, now that is 41 euros."

If nothing changes, Deen thinks supermarkets will face empty shelves in May or June. "That is still very far away. Of course, anything can happen."

Paul Yin of ginger importer B&C Lifestyle told NOS a similar story. "There is a major shortage on the European market," he said. "We have our own ginger factory in China, but the virus forced us to stay closed after the Chinese New Year. We now only have a limited stock in the Netherlands."

Albert Heijn doesn't expect customers will notice much of the price increases, as they have agreed on fixed prices with suppliers through long-term contracts. "The supply of our ginger from China is stalled. So it could be that we will run into shortages in four weeks," a spokesperson for the supermarket chain said to NOS. "But for the time being, we expect we can make it through with the current stocks." Albert Heijn always gets its garlic from Spain.