China’s Garlic Seasons Food Around the World

Sun Rio Reefers Manager, ZIM China

According to Produce Report, “China’s export volume of fresh and cold-stored garlic in 2020 reached 2.232 million tons, marking a high point for the past decade. This represents a year-on-year increase of 500,000 tons or 28.4% compared to 2019…”

China is the largest producer of garlic in the world, producing 80% of the global supply. The garlic season is quite long, from May to December, and the main producer is Jining City in the Shandong province, also known as the ‘world’s garlic capital. In addition to being a condiment, garlic is also used for its health benefits, primarily for cardiovascular conditions, high cholesterol, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.

ZIM is a key player in this gigantic market, shipping from the main ports of Qingdao and Lianyungang in China, primarily to Indonesia (Surabaya and Jakarta). With an 18-day sailing time, ZIM puts at the disposal of this service its fleet of the youngest reefers in the industry. Other destinations of this huge export commodity include the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean (where ZIM has a presence in all ports), Malaysia, Singapore, and South America. More recently, our company is beginning to transport garlic to Australia, New Zealand, and East Africa.

In terms of imports into China, ZIM’s reefers transport fruit and other produce from the Caribbean, seafood from Australia and New Zealand, and dairy and poultry from other countries.

What are some of the challenges we face?

One of the main concerns of Chinese garlic exporters is freshness. Like other food products, garlic requires controlled temperature and humidity as its bulbs consume large amounts of oxygen. Special ventilation and atmospheric conditions are essential to ensure the garlic bulbs remain fresh from origin to destination.

Scheduling is also a key issue. China is an enormous country, and garlic many times travel hundreds of kilometers from the grower to the port of departure. To preserve its freshness, it is imperative to ensure that loading, unloading and transport times do not suffer any delays.

Our service to Indonesia, called CIS, is extremely successful despite being challenging at times. Indonesia imposes a quota on garlic and other imports, but luckily for ZIM, we can deliver within the quota with no restrictions whatsoever.

Last but not least, given the global shortage of reefers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having the right number of reefers at the right time and in the right location at the disposal of our customers is extremely important. We benefit from the fact that our reefer containers factory is also in Shandong/Qingdao, our main port of departure, which gives us a marked advantage.

How do we fare compared to the competition?

There are many factors that differentiate ZIM from our competition:

  • Quick response times by our sales and customer service that enable us to manage our customers’ concerns successfully
  • High reefers availability, with the capability to flexibly adapt to increasing demand
  • Youngest reefers’ fleet in the region (and globally)
  • Dedicated teams of reefer experts, trade, marketing, and sales in all ports we serve

In short, our ‘can-do’ approach, personalized service, and excellent, responsive customer service enable our customers to accelerate their time to market.


Written by: Sun Rio, Reefers Manager, ZIM China



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