Ginger promotions for Chinese New Year could be scarce because of cold growing weather and reduced acreage in China.
In the last three weeks of December, ginger prices in China rose about 50%, and they will likely continue to rise, said Jim Provost, president of Kelton, Pa.-based I Love Produce.
Provost said ginger availability will be limited for Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb. 10 this year. Ginger will not likely begin arriving in the U.S. until February.
In addition to the weather problems and reduced acreage, demand is up in China’s domestic market.
“I would recommend retailers lock in ads for ginger early, as supplies will be tight in February,” he said.
Prices could remain high through February, Provost said. I Love Produce expects markets to stabilize after that.
Not all U.S.-bound winter ginger comes from China. Christopher Ranch, Gilroy, Calif., wrapped up its Brazilian ginger deal in late December and was transitioning into Hawaiian product, said Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing.
Christopher Ranch expects to import about 1 million pounds of Hawaiian ginger this winter, Ross said. As of Jan. 3, the quality of the 2013 crop looked good, she said.
Based on a grower survey conducted by I Love Produce’s China office, Provost estimates 2013 ginger acreage in China is 20% lower than in 2012. China does not keep official statistics on ginger acreage.
Because of the cold weather, yields are about 10 to 15% lower than last season, Provost said. The Chinese crop shipping to the U.S. in 2013 was harvested in October and November, then cured before shipping, he said. The cold weather also has made it more difficult to properly cure ginger this season.
Because of low ginger prices the past two years, Chinese growers replaced some acreage with green onions, potatoes and other crops this season, Provost said.