The surge in Covid-19 cases and related deaths over the holiday season has caused an extraordinary demand for ginger, causing the price of the well-known natural immune booster to more than double.
With the advent of the second coronavirus wave, Food For Mzansi has seen the popularity of ginger increase as consumers continue to seek ways to bolster their immune system by including ginger in juices, soups and extracts.
Dr Johnny Van Der Merwe, senior lecturer in agricultural economics at the North-West University (NWU), says prices for ginger were 116% higher over December. However, this was also due to the fact that ginger volumes were 47% lower on the fresh produce markets over this period.
Combined with a constrain in supply – growing ginger is seasonal and labour-intensive – the increased demand caused prices to skyrocket.
This is the second time that ginger prices have surged since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. In June 2020, ginger prices also rose as people flocked to buy this root in order to boost their immune systems.
Shihaam Domingo, owner of The Domingo Effect Roots Food fruit and vegetable stall in Kleinmond in the Western Cape, has followed the fluctuating trend of ginger prices when buying fresh produce from a market in Epping.
“What I’ve noticed is that over the last two or three weeks the ginger price escalated,” she says. “With the first wave it went up, and the highest I paid was about R100 per kilo. Now, it’s gone up to R300 per kg.”
These were the prices on Tuesday, 12 January 2021 at the Epping market, where you had to buy in bulk in order to secure your ginger order, Domingo says. This means she was not able to procure the ginger, which was being sold in 10kg packs for R3 000.
“I’ve seen prices fluctuating like this, even with the pineapple prices once the liquor ban was announced. By Tuesday morning, after the liquor ban was announced the Monday evening, prices for pineapples had doubled in the market.”
Domingo is concerned by these price fluctuations.
“I serve an elderly and impoverished community, and it’s the elderly people who cannot afford to go to the pharmacies. That’s why I wanted to buy ginger last week.”
Domingo does not sell her ginger with a mark-up because she realises that her elderly customers use these natural remedies to strengthen their immune systems, mixing ginger with wormwood and lemon.
“I cannot afford to buy ginger for my customers anymore,” she laments.
Food Lover’s Market earlier issued a notice about rising ginger prices. The retail giant says, “The price of ginger is expected to rise in the coming weeks. The escalation in price is due to an increase in demand and a shortage of supply, which has an influence on market prices.”
The price escalation of ginger will be temporary, according to Food Lover’s Market, as the local season is set to start in the next two to three weeks.