On-the-Ground Update

Ginseng piles up in Canada during Pandemic despite Chinese Demand

Innovation & Technology
Hong Kong
Regulation & Compliances
Shelly Chen
Published Oct 16, 2020
Canada is the world's second-largest ginseng exporter after China, with most of its exports shipped to Hong Kong on their way to mainland China, Singapore and Taiwan. The COVID-19's crushing effect on international travel has grounded Canadian exports of ginseng.

A ginseng crop can take up to five years to grow. But even as he starts this year's harvest, Remi Van De Slyke in Norfolk County, Ontario, has a barn full of last year's ginseng.

The problem is that travel restrictions have stopped Chinese buyers from visiting to check the crop, which has depressed the sales. Canada's diplomatic strains with Beijing haven't helped, said Van De Slyke, chairman of Ontario Ginseng Growers Association. "Everyone is locked down and that's causing us a big problem," he said. "We're hit in all directions here."

Across Canada, as much as 1.8 million pounds, or 20% of last year's crop, remains unsold, said Rebecca Coates, executive director of the Ontario growers association.

Canada shipped 354,305 kg worth $8.22 million USD to Hong Kong from May through July in 2020 as coronavirus infections peaked in Canada, one-third of the value from the same period in 2019.

Lately, some buyers have been "circling like sharks" to see if they can purchase for less than the production cost, Coates said.
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