• In late 2020 and early 2021, ginger prices doubled in South Africa, as people apparently sought it out in the hope it would boost their immune systems.
  • Prices have halved again, and ginger is going unsold on markets.
  • Buyers – previously thought to be fighting off Covid-19 with the root – have deserted it, leaving what farmers describe as an oversupply.
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In January this year wholesale ginger prices on the Joburg Market breached R200 per kg, and those who could find it on supermarket shelves were paying dearly.

Eight months later, you can buy big quantities of ginger for twenty time less, amid what farmers describe as an oversupply of the root.

The massive spike in ginger prices in late 2020 and early 2021 was partially due to bad weather in some parts of the world, and normal seasonal fluctuations in supply. But in countries such as China and South Africa, market watchers said sudden new demand appeared to be driven by Covid-19, as people sought to boost their immune systems by taking the root.

Then they stopped.

Demand for ginger has returned to previous levels, trade media site FreshPlaza reported, with few of the new ginger users sticking around. Now farmers face oversupply in the market again, even if retail prices have not yet come to reflect that just yet. 

On Tuesday the fresh produce market in Johannesburg recorded sales of just under 9,500kgs of ginger root, at an average price a little above R33 per kg. 

Well over 4,000kgs was still available for sale on the day, and at the bottom end, 20kg pockets of ginger were trading for R10 per kg.

At the retail level, you can currently pay anything between R99 per kg at Checkers for loose ginger and an effective R235 per kg for a 200g portion at Woolworths.

In January this year, Checkers was asking just about R180 per kg, and Business Insider South Africa found prices of more than R340 per kg at some retailers.

In February, the National Consumer Commission said a public outcry about the prices of garlic and ginger had triggered an investigation into possible price gouging by major retailers. In March, Pick n Pay agreed to cap its profits on ginger and garlic, in a deal with the Competition Commission.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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