KOCHI: Indian shipments of garlic have zoomed thanks to output shrinkage in China, the world’s largest producer, making it the hottest commodity in India’s spice export basket.
In the first quarter of the year India exported 18,000 tonnes valued at Rs 123.84 crore, a staggering increase of 169% in quantity and 107% in value, the highest growth among the spices exported from India including the usual top performing ones like chilli, cumin and spice oleoresins.
“A plunge in Chinese crop last year saw Chinese garlic prices increase to $1200 per tonne while the Indian garlic prices ranged from $600 to $900 per tonne in the first quarter. As a result the demand for Indian garlic shot up,” said Vijay Hotwani, MD of Varchasva Agro, an exporter based in Madhya Pradesh.
The rising export trend in garlic from India started last year. The year 2016-17 saw garlic export value shoot up 92% to a record Rs 307.11 crore from a year before. The quantity at 32,200 tonnes showed a 39% rise. Till 2015-16, Indian garlic export stood below Rs 100 crore.
“African countries have been buying from India in the last few years. Asian countries like Taiwan, Philippines and Vietnam have shifted their purchases to India over South China Sea dispute issue. Most of our garlic is going to Thailand via Malaysia,” said Vinay Agarwal, director of Guntur-based Ginny Food, a major exporter.
Usually garlic is harvested by February in India, giving the country a head start before the Chinese crop hits the global market about four months later. This year the Indian output and the Chinese crop harvested a few months ago have been good.
Consequently, the exporters said the high export growth is unlikely to be sustained in the coming months though first quarter looked promising.
“China garlic prices have dropped to $300 to 700 per tonne level almost the same as that of India,” said Hotwani.
China accounts for nearly 70% of the world’s garlic output and is also the world’s largest exporter. India ranks a distant second production of over 12 lakh tonnes, bulk of which is consumed domestically. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the major garlic producing states in the country. Chinese garlic, which is less pungent, is preferred by many US and European countries.