The Price of Garlic in China

Strange title for a post I know, but this is a quick one about something I experienced today whilst grocery shopping. I was running low on garlic bulbs and when I got to the veggie section in Coles (don’t usually shop there, just in a hurry), I was confronted with two options.

The first option was four bulbs of garlic packaged in white plastic netting @ 99 cents, which I noticed were imported from China. What the…? Why China? Apparently China has a very tight grip on the world garlic market and produce about 500,000 tonnes per year. The next biggest producer is the USA, with 70,000 tones per year. Over 90% of garlic sold in Australia is imported, mainly from China. The site Ripe Organics states, “Unlike imported garlic (especially garlic from China) organic garlic is never treated with methyl bromide, never bleached with chlorine and never treated with growth inhibitors or gamma irradiation to stop it sprouting.” So, I didn’t buy organic, but I did buy the next best thing.

The next option was Australian grown garlic for $3.98 a kg. So I chose Australian grown (of course), and chose the four biggest bulbs I could get my hands on, bunged them in my reusable shopping bag. We proceeded to the checkout, and I noticed that the price was only 88 cents for twice the amount of garlic than I would have received if I had have chosen the Chinese import. It just goes to show, that even though the packaged garlic looked cheaper, the Australian product was better value and has definitely travelled far less food miles. Ben was with us, so I explained to him why it was important to try and buy local produce, and he fully understood. I must admit that sometimes it is difficult to pick which product is better value for money, but because I chose in line with my values, I ended up a winner!

I wonder how many people when confronted with a similar choice, would have chosen the 99 cent garlic? I am so glad I planted some garlic this year. It is still growing well, and should be ready for harvest after December. I bet the bulbs will taste as good as the leaves do! You can’t get more local than that.


  1. says

    Gee, I didn’t think I would get this many comments about garlic. Obviously everyone is as passionate about the bulb as I am!

    I too am going to grow lots more next year. They are so easy to grow!


  2. says

    Garlic leaves are very nice to eat! We grow some garlic and grow most for their bulbs but have a few sacrificial plants that we harvest the leaves from throughout the growing season.

    Regards, Gary

  3. says

    I have two of the digger’s varieties in at the moment. I have to say for the amount of garlic I expect to harvest compared to 25 cents a bulb it is not great value to grow your own fancy garlic but I’m sure it’ll be rewarding nonetheless. I have the Russian Garlic growing which looks pretty special and the plants are very high now.

  4. says

    You were very lucky to have a choice. Here in bayside the shops only stock chinese and mexican garlic. My local health food shop sells organic from n.s.w. and costs $50 a kilo. Must order garlic from digger’s next year!!

  5. Anonymous says

    You can eat the leaves? Do you just keeping cutting them and they keep regrowing or do you just eat them when you pull the bulb out? Sorry – new to vegie gardening!!

  6. says

    Im embarrased to say that I use to work at Coles and held an important financial position with the company. I know of the “FAKES” that you describe Gav with Garlic from China etc and there are sooo many other things that the consumer is not aware of and that the supermarkets DONT offer choice information to the consumer about where or what their products come from or what has happened to them in transit from god knows where and what the product has been proccesed with or how much it has been handled or even how long since it was picked and or the time from truck to supermarket shelves. I saw the behind the scenes, best to buy from the growers market which is visible and direct from the farmer, it may not look pretty but I would trust the farmer a darn site more than the Fatcats at Supermarkets!!!

  7. says

    I’m going to have to have a look at the packaged garlic next time I go to the supermarket here to check whether it’s from China. I buy mine at the farm shop so it’s grown very locally and tastes soooooo much better. The juice runs from it when it’s crushed whereas the packaged stuff is really feeble by comparison.

    I’m also hoping to grow my own next year as garlic and onions are two things I use almost every day in cooking.

  8. says

    Best to think twice about buying anything from China at the moment, no matter what the price. At least we know there is no melamine in our eggs and 0 food miles.

    I have failed to grow garlic as yet but will try again in a different location this year. If at first you don’t succeed….

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