22 Jul 2010

Garlic company increases plantings to meet domestic demand

6:48 am on 22 July 2010

The country's biggest garlic grower says locally-grown garlic is really starting to make inroads into the domestic market.

Phoenix Garlic, which is jointly owned by the Murphy and de Castro families in Marlborough, is increasing its plantings this year, after one of its best seasons in years.

The industry has been nearly crippled over the past decade by a flood of garlic imported from China and a lack of available seed for planting.

Phoenix says garlic imports dropped last year for the first time since 2005, proving that New Zealand consumers are now turning back to local product.

Business manager John Murphy says they recently processed one of their biggest crops in years at 300 tonnes.

To keep up with the growing consumer demand, the company plans to increase its plantings by 10 hectares for the new season.

Everything we produced is going out the door," he says, "with more and more chefs saying local garlic is better".

However, he acknowledges that Chinese garlic imports have broadened the market.

Now, he says, people are very happy to know it's locally-grown and where it comes from.

Mr Murphy says prices for New Zealand garlic have also improved slightly.