China is on track for its largest garlic crop in four years, according to importers.
After a recent trip to China, Jim Provost, president of West Grove, Pa.-based I Love Produce, said the 2013-14 Chinese crop should be about 35% bigger than last season’s crop.
According to the latest estimate, Provost said, China is expected to ship 6 million metric tons, up from 4.5 million metric tons last season.
Louis Hymel, director of purchasing and marketing for Spice World Inc., Orlando, Fla., said the Chinese crop could be anywhere from 20% to 40% bigger than last year’s crop.
Some fresh peeled Chinese garlic has already arrived in the U.S., and whole fresh garlic was en route as of June 27, Hymel said.
During the past three years, Provost said, supplies of garlic from China have been relatively tight, and prices comparable to domestically grown garlic.
“This year will be an entirely different deal, and garlic will be at least 30% cheaper on average,” Provost said in a news release. “The quality is excellent and the size is very good, so it’s time to promote garlic again.”
On July 1, the Los Angeles terminal market reported prices of $30-32 for 30-pound cartons of white netted 3s from China, up from $20-21 last year at the same time.
Ten-pound cartons of colossal elephant garlic from California were $27.50, comparable to last year.
The big Chinese crop could lower prices for California garlic, particularly at foodservice, said Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing for Christopher Ranch, Gilroy, Calif.
Hymel said it remains to be seen how the large Chinese volumes affect prices for California product. Prices for smaller California product, for instance, could feel a downward tug, but larger California garlic could be less affected.
“There will be more of a (price) spread between China and California than we’ve seen in the past,” Hymel said.
Spice World was sourcing garlic from Baja California in late June, with central California production expected to start in early July.
Hymel reported excellent quality from Baja, and expected the same from central California.
Christopher Ranch was harvesting light volumes from the southern part of the state in late June, with volumes expected to begin peaking in mid- to late July as production moves north, Ross said.