US garlic growers profit from trade war as most farmers struggle

File: Sales of California-grown garlic are now increasing after decades of losing ground to cheaper Chinese imports.

File: Sales of California-grown garlic are now increasing after decades of losing ground to cheaper Chinese imports.

Pixabay/Steve Buissinne

GILROY - Unlike millions of other US farmers, garlic growers are profiting from the trade war with China and have cheered President Donald Trump's latest economic attack accordingly.

Sales of California-grown garlic are now increasing after decades of losing ground to cheaper Chinese imports. Sales are poised to get even better as Chinese garlic faces even higher tariffs, with no end to the trade war in sight.

"In a perfect world, we'd love to see the tariffs stay on forever," said Ken Christopher, executive vice president of family-owned Christopher Ranch, the largest of three remaining commercial garlic producers in the United States.

While many farmers are suffering through the trade war because they relied heavily on imports to China, US garlic growers benefit because they rely overwhelmingly on domestic sales.

Tariffs on Chinese garlic increased from 10 to 25 percent on May 9, when the US hiked tariffs on $200-billion of Chinese goods and dashed hopes that a US-China trade deal could come soon.

"The timing couldn’t be better for us," Christopher said. "We anticipate a surge in demand for California garlic in the coming weeks."

Not everyone is a fan of the garlic tariff. While Christopher was testifying in favour of tariffs to congressional committees, executives from one of the world's top seasoning companies, McCormick & Company Inc., were arguing against them.

McCormick says its recipes mostly rely on Chinese garlic, calling it a different product from what is grown in the United States.

“They’re not substitutable," CEO Lawrence Kurzius told Reuters in an interview. "Just like wine, origin matters and terroir matter.”

The new profits US garlic farmers have enjoyed from tariffs are an exception in the US farm sector.

China last year retaliated to Trump's tariffs with duties on US goods including soybeans, corn and pork.

Source
Reuters