Chinese garlic exporters may soon be battling to give their product away to international markets, as China’s garlic sector looks set to collapse under a glut of stored and new-season product.
Shippers are currently struggling to sell stored product at farm-gate prices of CNY9-10 per kg, and anticipate the cost will plummet to CNY0.2 per kg in July-August as more new-season volumes come on line.
As many as 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of last year’s crop remain, as yet un-sold, in coldstores, exporters estimate. Meanwhile, new-season volumes are starting to build up since Chinese farmers began harvesting earlier than usual to save on labour costs by doing the job themselves, shippers report.
“A significant feature of this garlic season is that the period for simultaneous export of old garlic and new garlic is longer than normal years”, exporter Ding Jian of Goodfarmer told Fruitnet.
The build-up of stored product is being blamed on stricter export quality control and heightened inspections by the State Bureau of Import and Export Commodities, as well as a clamp down on Chinese garlic imports by Indonesia – which traditionally absorbed around 25 per cent of China’s garlic exports.
“Since April, the Indonesian government has implemented more rules governing Chinese root produce imports, and this has made it difficult to export there,” Mr Ding explained.
New-season bulb sizes are understood to be smaller than usual due to cooler spring weather, which slowed growth-rates, and the premature start to the picking season.
Farmers’ reluctance to invest in their garlic fields this spring, due to the falling price of stored product, is also believed to have impacted bulb size.