Monday, 31 December 2012

Niche Market, Brazilian Exports & High Price In Nepal

The actress Gwyneth Paltrow is having a healthy-eating recipe book published this coming April which I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about between now and then (the Graham Norton Show perhaps?). Anyway, one of her 185 recipes is salmon burgers with pickled ginger. It doesn't immediately grab me but if you do give it a try, let me know what it is like.

The Virginia Farm Bureau is the state of Virginia's largest farmers organisation. It protects farmers' interests and dispenses help and advice. And a recent piece of advice to farmers is to grow ginger in 2013. According to Dr Reza Rafie, a Virginia State University horticulture specialist. "It’s a considerable niche market opportunity". Incidentally, the advice refers to the use of hoop houses. These are more commonly known as polytunnels in the UK.

If you are interested in growing ginger you can order ginger 'seed' from East Branch Ginger in North Carolina from the second week of January.

The Trinidad and Tobago Newsday reported on some of the shopping stories on the day before Christmas Eve in Port-of-Spain. One retailer was having a bad time selling boxer shorts and jerseys but was having more success selling ginger root for making ginger beer.

In my last post I mentioned the problems being faced by ginger farmers in Antigua who are being plagued by the Giant African snail. The same source, the Antigua Observer, has now reported on one particular farmer who has lost all of her ginger crop at a time of the year, Christmas, when ginger is very popular. Someone must be able to control these little blighters, surely.

We are about halfway through the Brazilian ginger export season now. December and January will see new ginger sent to Europe, principally the Netherlands.

The Caribbean Bottling Company produces Schweppes Ginger Ale for the Bahamian market. But recently production was suspended after an unusual taste was detected in the 12oz cans. At the beginning the problem was proving so difficult to resolve that representatives from Coca-Cola and the can supplier were brought in. It has now been alleged that a cleaning agent could be involved. (Source: Tribune 242 (1), Tribune 242 (2)).

Nepalese ginger farmers will be ending the year on a high. Last year, ginger was trading for as little as Rs 5 per kg but now it can fetch Rs 40 per kg. And the reason? Because the price was so low last year many farmers decided to give ginger a miss this year. This has resulted in a shortage thereby pushing up the price. (Source: The Kathmandu Post).

I'd like to finish by wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Husband Creches, Ginger Fraud, Giant Snails & Low Calorie Ginger Beer

Crabbie’s, famous for its ginger beers, is opening “man sheds” or "husband crèches" in a number of UK shopping centres for men to relax, drink ginger beer and play with gadgets during the Christmas shopping rush. The idea is that wives and girlfriends will leave their partner at a shed, spend some time shopping unhindered and unencumbered, and then collect him when it is time to go home. What an excellent idea. Clever people, these Crabbie's folk. (Source: Talking Retail).

The BBC carried an unusual story regarding a company who imported what it claimed was ginger into the UK but actually turned out to be garlic. The company informed HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) that it was importing thousands of kilos of ginger. But when the UK Border Agency checked a particular consignment it found 7,000 kilos of garlic. HMRC later checked previous shipping records and found that the company's importation of garlic had stopped. Over the same period the company's importation of ginger had increased five-fold. So why did the company pass off garlic as ginger? If you import garlic into the EU you have to pay an import duty imposed to protect EU garlic growers. Ginger does not incur any duty. The owner of the company, who has since disappeared, has now been found guilty in his absence of avoiding £2m in import duty. carried a feature on the increasing competition and developments in the UK brewing sector. Recent research from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has shown that there are now 1,009 breweries plying their trade in the UK. Much of the output from these breweries, many of them microbreweries, is aimed at the growing number of 18-24 year olds who are interested in trying flavoured beers. And a popular variety in this flavoured beer range is ginger-spiced real ale.

Concern is growing amongst farmers in Antigua who are losing their ginger and other crops to an invasion of Giant African snails, according to the Antigua Observer. Unfortunately there isn't an effective means of control or eradication so we will have to wait and see. Hopefully this isn't the end of the story.

I don't know much about ginger on Antigua but I do know that it was introduced to the island by the settlers and that the Antigua Brewery produces a ginger ale.

Good news for Fever-Tree, the British premium mixer drinks brand. It has won a listing with Tesco for its Naturally Light Ginger Beer. The low calorie drink contains 60 calories per serving and is made with the same ingredients as Fever-Tree's signature Ginger Beer with the exception of the sweetener where natural fruit juice is used instead of cane sugar. (Source: The Grocer).

The inhabitants of Kazakhstan drink about 3 billion litres of tea a year. This puts the country in the top five tea-consuming countries in the world. Much of this tea is black tea and much of this black tea is consumed with something added such blueberries or cranberries or, you've guessed it, ginger. (Source: Kazakh TV)

The Himalayan reports that in the last fiscal year Nepal exported Rs74.26 billion worth of products and that in the current fiscal year the target is Rs100 billion. Although ginger contributed a mere Rs280 million last year, for a lot of small farmers and their families it is the only source of income. Is a Rs1 billion target achievable as has been mooted? I sincerely hope so.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Swedish Gingerbread, Indian Prices & Ginger Real Ales

I do enjoy watching foreign language dramas with subtitles on TV. My Saturday evenings are not complete without a weekly dose of crime from Italy or France or, as happens most weeks, Scandinavia (The Killing, The Bridge, Borgen & Wallander come to mind). According to The Observer, it is not only Scandinavian drama which is proving popular with the British. The UK shopping delivery service Ocado has launched a Scandinavian Christmas Shop and one of its top sellers is Nyåkers Pepparkakor. This Swedish gingerbread biscuit has seen sales jump by 73% over the last three weeks.

Nyåkers Pepparkakor is the oldest gingerbread biscuit bakery in Sweden. Pepparkakor is the Swedish word for gingerbread. The biscuits have been produced for seventy-odd years and are still made to the original recipe. They are very popular in the USA (and now the UK it seems).

This coming Friday (Nov 30th) and Saturday (Dec 1st) will see the Fall to Winter Fest in Boston. This event, organised by Drink Craft Beer, will feature offerings from 25 New England craft brewers and cider makers (sounds like the CAMRA beer festivals in the UK). The official festival beer is from Peak Organic and has the rather unusual name "Nut Your Average Ginger". This is a harvest brown ale brewed with malt, hops, honey, chestnut puree and Massachusetts-grown ginger from Old Friends Farm.

If you do go to the Fest have a look for a gingerbread stout called Merry Mischief from the Boston Beer Company and a pale ale with honey and ginger called Honey Gingah Pale Ale from the Cody Brewing Company. Let me know your views on these beers.

Old Friends Farm is an organic farm in Amherst, Massachusetts. It grows a ginger variety from the Biker Dude Organic Ginger Farm in Pahoa, Hawaii. Because the climate in the US Northeast is not as good as Hawaii, the ginger is harvested at five to six months. This results in young and tender ginger which is perishable. Fortunately, it can be frozen.

The Hindu Business Line reports that the price of ginger in India is rapidly increasing because demand is exceeding supply now that winter is here. Ginger consumption during winter in India is always high as people attempt to protect themselves from the cold and damp. And demand will continue to exceed supply as many farmers, disappointed with the low prices in recent years, have decided not to grow ginger in the new season. I'm sure that this is a decision they are now bitterly regretting.

When I started reading the article I wondered why India doesn't import ginger to cover the shortfall. According to the article the existing import duty on ginger still makes Indian ginger, already an expensive commodity on the world markets, the cheaper option. So old ginger stock is being released to the local markets.

A standard comparison measure of world commodity prices is the concept of price parity. This benchmark price is calculated by taking an average of prices over a period of time. For example, the USA uses a period of ten years. If we assume that India uses the same period as the USA, its ginger price parity is an average of the price of ginger over the previous ten years. India's current ginger price parity is the highest of all the ginger-producing countries.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hobbit Ginger Beer, Snoop Partnership, Dutch Exports & Tissue Culture

Are you a fan of the Lord of the Rings? Or hobbits? Or Tolkien? If you are and you like your ginger beer then you will be interested in this. The Good George brewery in Waikato has been selected to brew a non-alcoholic ginger beer for the Green Dragon in Hobbiton. But the Green Dragon isn't real, I hear you say. Well, it is now. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy the Green Dragon pub was actually only the front, the rest didn't exist. And during the final instalment it was burned to the ground (I don't remember that!). But the Green Dragon has now been rebuilt as a real pub for the forthcoming The Hobbit film trilogy. Unfortunately, the pub is only open to those on the Hobbiton tour. (Source: Waikato Times).

Gladstone Hall, the former home of Australian ginger beer magnate William Starkey, is now on the market. If you have at least $2.4 million and fancy living in the Sydney suburb of Dulwich Hill, you can find more information here. But I am more interested in the ginger beer itself. Starkey started brewing ginger beer in Sydney in 1838 and became so successful that he eventually had the largest ginger beer factory in the southern hemisphere. I can't seem to find anything else about Starkey's ginger beer. Can anyone help?

The Naples Beach Brewery in south Florida recently received state clearance to commercially produce alcoholic beverages. One of its new beers is a mango ginger Belgian ale. Sounds very American.

A press release has announced details of a partnership between the US rapper Snoop Lion (apparently he is sometimes known as Snoop Dogg) and Reed's Ginger Brew to raise awareness of Snoop's Mind Gardens Project in Jamaica. The project's aim is to establish organic community gardens capable of producing fresh fruit and vegetables for school-aged children. Reed's founder Chris Reed has said that he wants to give something back to Jamaica as his company's successful drinks are based on traditional Jamaican-style ginger beers.

just-food has reported on the rising demand from China for traditional English cheeses including the increasing popular dessert cheeses such as white stilton with mango and ginger. It is quite likely that the ginger in these blended cheeses came from China in the first place.

I've just been reading some interesting statistics from the Centre for the Promotion of Imports, an agency of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and known by the Dutch acronym CBI. In 2010, the Netherlands accounted for 35% of all ginger imports into the EU and was the largest EU importer. Again in 2010, 65% of total ginger exports from the EU came from the Netherlands. Some of these Dutch re-exports contributed 6.8% of total British ginger imports.

So why the Netherlands? Towards the end of the 16th century Dutch traders started dealing in spices from the East. Soon after, the Dutch East India Company was formed and this lasted for nearly two hundred years. By then the Dutch spice trade, including ginger, was so well established that it continues to this day. It may seem incredible but last year the Netherlands was the world's third biggest exporter of ginger behind China and Nigeria.

The idea of the EU exporting ginger sounds strange, doesn't it? How can a region which doesn't grow ginger (or at least not commercially) actually export it? The answer is, I don't know. I can only speculate that it could be some sort of added-value or preferential rate. Can anyone enlighten me?

just-drinks has reported a fall in the losses of Castle Brands, the New York-based spirits and wine group. A contributory factor in this improvement is the rise in sales of Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer, up 45.5% to 74,959 cases in the last quarter. You can always rely on ginger!

A new ginger breeding facility has just opened in the Malaysian state of Sabah, according to the Borneo Post. It uses in-vitro technology to produce 500 plantlets from one parent ginger plant in a process which takes six months. It is hoped that production of disease-free stock will help Sabah meet its demand for 24,000 kg a month.

A press release on PRWeb has announced the forthcoming launch of a loose leaf ginger tea blend in time for Christmas. The Tea Spot, from Boulder in Colorado, has created a blend featuring smoked black tea from China and ginger tea from Honduras. It sounds like the ideal drink for elevenses.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Ginger Rodent, Maine Farming, Price Rise & Success In Trinidad

Last week, Danny Alexander MP celebrated the launch of Ginger Rodent beer from the Cairngorm Brewery. For those of you who follow British current affairs, that event will probably raise a smile. But for those who don't, let me explain. Danny Alexander is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, a British government cabinet post, and number two to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He also has red hair and represents a constituency in the Scottish Highlands. Last year, Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said of Alexander in a conference speech, "Now, many of us in the Labour Party are conservationists and we all love the red squirrel. But there is one ginger rodent which we never want to see again in the Highlands – Danny Alexander."

Commercial ginger growing seems to be moving further north in the US. A recent article in the Portland Phoenix featured the Good Shepherd's Farm in Bremen, Maine, which has just harvested its first ever crop of over 100 lb. I was also surprised to read in the same article about Freedom Farm, Maine's biggest ginger grower, which has harvested about 400 lb. At this latitude the ginger must be harvested young but as I've said before, baby ginger is becoming extremely popular in the US both cooked and raw in salads.

The climate in Maine is classified as Humid Continental Climate which is characterised by humid and warm to hot summers, and cold and snowy winters. This differs quite considerably from more traditional ginger growing regions such as India, Nigeria and Jamaica. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer will again sponsor Christmas programmes on ITV1, ITV2 & STV. The brand will also be running a TV advertising campaign starring the Tickety Boo couple George and Camilla. (Source: The Drum)

Here's an unusual story from Fiji. A septuagenarian former mathematics lecturer ignored advice from the Fijian government and planted ginger on dry sugarcane land in an area of the country not known for growing ginger. And he wasn't just dabbling. Master Dass planted three acres in March 2012 and has now harvested at least five tonnes. Other farmers are now hoping to emulate his success. (Source: The Fiji Times).

According to the Central Statistical Office of the Trinidad & Tobago government, ginger consumption in 2010 far exceeded local production following an increased demand for ginger products. So it was pleasing to see that farmers responded by raising production from 97,000 kg in 2010 to 186,800 kg in 2011 (an incredible 98% increase in just one year). As well as a larger harvest, the price of ginger also fell which must have made local consumers very happy.

We are nearly halfway through the rainy season in southern India. Running from October to December, the region receives a soaking from the Northeast Monsoon with most of the rain falling on one particular state - Tamil Nadu. As you can imagine, under these conditions there are going to be some monsoon-related ailments such as upset stomachs, colds and aching joints. To combat these, locals often resort to traditional herbal medicines. One of these, sukku malli kaapi, is popular in south Tamil Nadu. This is a brew made from dry ginger, coriander and lesser galangal (a member of the ginger family). (Source: The Hindu)

I've read that Indians like to chew a small piece of ginger with a very small pinch of salt to ward off the common cold. I chew a nugget of crystallised ginger each morning (without the salt) and although it hasn't stopped me from just having a cold, it certainly tastes good.

Still in India and the Deccan Herald reports that the price of ginger has increased considerably in the town of Chikmagalur in Karnataka. Last year, ginger fell as low as Rs 300 for a 60 kg bag. Last week, ginger was fetching up to Rs 2,200 a bag and harvesting only started this month. A number of factors have contributed to this rise. Winter in north India increases demand for ginger coffee and ginger tea. Demand also increases with the approach of the festival season. And, finally, there has been a low yield in the neighbouring state of Kerala.

One Indian festival where participants consume ginger food and drink, not exclusively I must add, is Diwali. This "festival of lights", which is about to end, is held across the country.

Here is an interesting article from the St.Louis Post-Dispatch on how a ginger liqueur business started. I must admit that it has given me a few ideas.

The Rutland Herald in Vermont has reported that a new brewery will open later this month. The reason I am interested is that one of the two launch beers from Foley Brothers Brewery will be of the ginger wheat variety.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

New TV Advert, Jamaican Revival, Price Rise & Ginger Snap Ice Cream

Diageo’s Jeremiah Weed Root Brew is to appear in its first UK TV advert targeted at Scotland. The advertising campaign for the ginger drink will run for a month starting on November 1st. It will be focused on Scotland where the brand is proving popular. I tried a Root Brew recently and really enjoyed it. And in case you are wondering, I don't live in Scotland. (Source: Campaign Live)

In my last post I mentioned that the Great Lakes Brewing Company will be launching its Christmas Ale (complete with fresh ginger) on November 1st. I've just read on the Ohio Breweries Beer Blog that the brewery has joined forces with Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream to create a Christmas Ale Ginger Snap ice cream. It contains the fresh ginger from the beer with extra organic ginger and homemade ginger snaps. Sounds like ginger heaven.

The ginger revival continues in Jamaica, according to the Jamaica Observer. Once grown in many parishes all over the island, ginger is now grown principally in the parish of Manchester. Research is being carried out by the locally based Christiana Potato Growers Co-operative (I don't know why either) which has been responsible for distributing 35,000 pieces of disease-free ginger of the Jamaica Blue and Jamaica Yellow varieties to selected co-operative members. The importance of the revival can be seen by the fact that Jamaica imports 70% of all that it consumes.

allAfrica reports that this week President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania has been on a working tour of the Kilimanjaro Region where he launched a ginger industry in Same District. Ginger has been produced in Same for about fifteen years but has been hampered by a lack of investment. Private sector investment is now becoming available which will allow reliable production for both domestic consumption and export to Kenya, Germany and the Netherlands. The President's visit should really be called a re-launch of the ginger industry.

Much Tanzanian ginger production is organic but because it cannot be certified as such, it is classed as non-organic. It is said that the reason it is grown organically is because farmers cannot afford any agricultural inputs like pesticides.

Autumn in the US generally means pumpkin beers and ales from American brewers. But not for Bison Organic Beer from Berkeley in California. For this brewery it is the welcome return of Organic Gingerbread Ale. Another one I'll never be able to taste. (Source: CraftBeer)

It is a good time to be a ginger farmer in the Nepalese district of Ilam, according to República. A year ago ginger fetched Rs 5 per kg. Today you can expect Rs 35 per kg, a 600 percent increase. And some traders are predicting that the price could rise further next month, possibly reaching Rs 45 to Rs 50 per kg. It seems that the reason for the increase is low production in some northern Indian states. But there is a downside to this news - Nepalese shoppers are having to pay more.

It is not unusual for Indian farmers to take out bank loans to enable them to grow ginger. But what happens when farmers are unable to repay the loans? The State Bank of India decided that it would sell the ginger at auction now. The farmers went to the Kerala High Court and argued successfully that the ginger would command a better price if sold during the peak ginger season next March. The ginger is now being held in state warehouses. (Source: The Times of India)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Ginger Research, Import Concerns, Theft & Christmas

Let's start with a sporting trivia question. What did Babe Ruth, the legendary American baseball player, enjoy for breakfast? Apparently, he drank two pints of bourbon and ginger ale. Ruth must have enjoyed his ginger as he personally endorsed Red Rock Cola, a popular ginger ale and cola product.

The story about Fijian ginger exports to Australia continues. Queensland farmers and politicians are concerned about the risk of pest infestation and the threat to jobs resulting from cheap imports. These farmers have raised their concerns with the Australian Senate Rural and Regional Affairs committee. This committee will produce a report by the 29th of November. Interestingly, Queensland farmers are also concerned about the import of pineapples from Malaysia.

Ginger is a very important export commodity for Fiji. The bulk of these exports, at 830,000 kg and worth $6million, takes the form of immature ginger principally for the New Zealand and European markets.

James White Drinks has extended its Beet It range of beetroot juices with the launch of Beet It With Ginger, an organic beetroot juice with ginger. The Food & Drink Innovation Network reports the owner of James White as saying that as only 30% of people love beetroot, adding ginger will immediately increase that percentage. I should be able to find a bottle in my local Waitrose.

McCormick, the international herb and spice producer, has identified ginger as one of seven must-have flavours for the forthcoming festive season, according to a company news release. I've never really thought about ginger with my Christmas turkey but the possibility of a ginger and orange glaze immediately comes to mind. What do you think?

The Birmingham Mail reports that thieves have made off with £12,000 worth of Fox’s ginger nuts and shortcakes from a Walsall industrial estate. This haul is obviously too much for personal consumption so will have to be offloaded somewhere. So if you are having a quiet pint in a West Midlands pub, don't be surprised if someone whispers over your shoulder, "Psst, want some ginger?".

As we have seen in previous posts, Americans have developed a taste for Belgian-style Witbier with ginger. I've found another one, this time from San Francisco's Triple Voodoo Brewing, called Witopia. This 5.5% abv wheat beer contains ginger, coriander & orange peel. (Source: Shanken News Daily).

Still in the US and November 1st sees the launch of this year's Christmas Ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio. This four-times World Beer Championships gold medal winner is a holiday ale which has been brewed with the addition of fresh ginger, honey and cinnamon. I think that this shows that ginger-spiced beers and ales can not only be refreshing in the summer but also warming in the winter.

And here is another one from the States. Sabra Dipping Company has just launched Asian Fusion Garden Hummus where Asia meets the Mediterranean. This interesting sounding hummus is made from ginger and sesame (and a few other things).

Next year will see the publication of a research paper entitled "Value-added bioethanol from spent ginger obtained after oleoresin extraction". Conducted by the Food Engineering and Technology Department at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, the research will show that spent ginger can be used to produce bioethanol. The spent ginger is what remains after the extraction of oleoresin and constitutes more than 90% of the original raw material.

I like to keep an eye on ginger agricultural developments in the US. This is a country which, apart from Hawaii, has not been known for growing ginger. But an increasing number of innovative, adventurous and entrepreneurial farmers have taken the plunge and started to produce ginger. To assist these farmers, the University of Minnesota has established a ginger research programme at its Southern Research & Outreach Centre in Waseca. Researchers here plant 100-150 pounds of ginger a year in high tunnels.

The Kathmandu Post reports that the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Nepal Ministry of Commerce and Supply will be promoting the production of ginger in Taplejung and Bhojpur districts. Both of these districts are known for growing ginger. This new initiative will introduce improved ginger 'seed' with the intention of harvesting ginger with a lower fibre content. Low fibre is a characteristic in demand in the international markets and can command a higher price.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

New Ginger Beers, Preservative Use, Oleoresins & Crisps

I was surprised to read that in the late 1950s, doctors in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recommended ginger ale and pretzels as a cure for babies with an upset stomach. Apparently, the drink is no longer used as the sugar content can exacerbate the problem and also giving a baby a fizzy drink isn't ideal. I would have thought that the spiciness of ginger would have been completely unsuitable.

Last month, Fever-Tree launched its Naturally Light Ginger Beer in the US. It joins the company's existing Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale with all three made from a blend of three gingers from Nigeria, Cochin and the Ivory Coast.

The latest unusual ginger-spiced beer I've spotted is Antebellum Ale from the Craggie Brewing Company in Asheville, North Carolina. The brewery has taken an 1840s American recipe containing ginger, molasses and spruce tips and added malt and hops for a modern twist.

In June, the Philadelphia Brewing Company launched Commonwealth Ciders. Next year, the brewery is planning a seasonal ginger cider. I'll let you know when it arrives.

The Gleaner from Jamaica carried an interesting article recently which had me reaching for the dictionary. It's about a farmer who grows soursop and who wants to produce a soursop juice commercially. Soursop, for those of you who, like me, had never heard of it before, is a tropical fruit with a taste of strawberry and pineapple. What brought the article to my attention was the use of ginger as a preservative for the juice.

Ginger has long been known as a preservative and a quick online search will reveal a wide range of ginger preservative uses including bread, pork, West African soft cheese, fresh fish and orange juice.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has announced the recall of certain Clef Des Champs brand Organic Ground Ginger products which may contain salmonella, reports MarketWatch. The recall appears to be nationwide.

Waitrose is to launch an alcoholic ginger beer as part of an own-label revamp. I'm surprised that there hasn't been one before (as far as I know).

Hollows & Fentimans will be promoting its alcoholic ginger beer with a Halloween marketing campaign this month, reports FoodBev. My understanding is that although Fentimans and Hollows & Fentimans are, in effect, the same company, Fentimans produces non-alcoholic drinks and Hollows & Fentimans produces alcoholic drinks. Nice drinks.

The Nepalese Department of Food technology and Quality Control has selected ginger as one of six agricultural products with wider export potential, according to The Himalayan Times. With ginger exports earning an impressive Rs 507.6 million in the last fiscal year, farmers are being encouraged to switch to organic production and then gain the added financial benefit of processing the ginger instead of exporting it raw. Preserved ginger commands a good premium although Nepal would be up against established players like Hong Kong and China.

Another region looking to increase its market share is the northern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The State Agriculture Minister has called for the creation of more ginger oleoresin extraction plants. Oleoresins are naturally occurring mixtures of oil and resin. Ginger oleoresin is used to flavour a wide range of food and drink products. (Source: The Hindu Business Line).

If you live in Japan you may be interested in a soon to be launched ginger and fried chicken flavoured crisp. But, according to PotatoPro, these crisps will only be available for a limited period.

The Nigerian Guardian has reported that a government department is developing plans to cope with the after effects of flooding on agricultural land. Although Nigeria produces enough both to feed itself and also to export for much needed foreign earnings, the production of crops such as ginger, cashew nuts, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits was affected this year by a combination of severe flooding and high post-harvest losses. Any farmer, politician or scientist will accept that you cannot mitigate against the effects of flooding but that something can and should be done to reduce the amount of post-harvest waste.

Incidentally, Nigeria start growing ginger in 1927 and is now fifth in the world production table.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Longevity, Recall, Unusual Bottle Find, Award Winners & Price Rise

The Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is an innovative and quirky brewery from Milton, Delaware. I like to follow developments because its beers, whether they reach production or not, can be very imaginative. One beer I read about recently is a soup-like brew called Hot Thoup!, an imperial pale ale with added ginger and carrots. I don't know what it tastes like and I never will as it will only be on tap while supplies last.

The Daily Express reported that Dorothy Peel, who has just celebrated her 110th birthday, attributes her longevity to a daily glass of ginger ale with a bit of whisky. I shall raise a belated glass to you, Dorothy.

A fascinating archaeology article was featured in Get Surrey last week. Professionals and volunteers have been excavating the ruins of Woking Palace, a building used by Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The article mentioned one particular unusual discovery - a ginger beer bottle. The bottle, of the Codd variety, was marked Castle Brewery (Guildford) and dated between 1910 and 1918. It is believed that the bottle was discarded during the 1911 Lord Iveagh excavation.

A couple of supplementary facts. Lord Iveagh was chief executive and, subsequently, chairman of Guinness. A Codd bottle incorporated a marble and a rubber washer in the neck and was designed for carbonated drinks by the British soft drink maker Hiram Codd in 1872.

Thai Ginger Butter is one of a number of products to be recalled by Sunland, Inc, according to many media outlets including CNN.

The Riverfront Times blog reported on an interesting development in University City, Missouri. Three local businesses have collaborated on the creation of two new sodas. One of these drinks is Pi Ginger Beer which is described as a cross between ginger ale and a spicy Jamaican ginger beer.

This is a bit late (early August actually) but better late than never. The Wrest Point Royal Hobart Fine Food Awards show, organised by The Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania, is a key event in the Australian culinary calendar. I'm mentioning this because a number of ginger products picked up awards (not enough in my view). So congratulations to (deep breath): Tasmanian Ginger for Ginger Kisses, Choc Cherry Ginger Bites, Scary Gingerbread House and the Gluten-Free Gingerbread Man; Cocobean Chocolate for Macadamia & Ginger Bark; Red Dragon Organics for Certified Organic Ginger Beer and Living Elixir; Tasmanian Chilli Beer Company for Ginger Chilli Beer (Non-Alcoholic) and Ginger Beer (Non-Alcoholic); Carlson's Handcrafted Ginger Cordial; Doolan Country Rhubarb & Ginger Jam; Nina's Fig & Ginger Jam; Lemon Ginger Marmalade from Pirates Bay Berry Farm and, finally, Taverner's Tasmanian Double Ginger Honey. So, if you live in Australia, add these to your shopping list. You can see the full list here.

The latest unusual ginger-spiced beer I've found (read about, not tried) is Autumnation from the Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn, New York. This beer is brewed with ginger, pumpkin and "wet" hops. "Wet" hops are used freshly picked rather than dried in the traditional manner.

In the early summer I mentioned that the sowing of ginger in the Indian state of Karnataka had been adversely affected by the absence of the monsoon rains. The Deccan Herald has just reported that farmers in the village of Shanivarasanthe in the Kodagu district of the state have just started taking what I assume is newly-harvested baby ginger to market. Because the lack of rain has affected the quantity of ginger, the consequent lack of ginger at market has led to an increase in the wholesale price. Good news for farmers but bad news for shoppers.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Malawi Shortage, Maldive Ginger Beer, Organic Ginger & Tigers

This isn't a good time for ginger ale drinkers in Malawi. The Nyasa Times reported that Carlsberg Malawi, the country's main supplier of soft drinks (including ginger ale) as well as the expected alcoholic beers, is suffering from the twin effects of a disconnected water supply and a shortage of bottles. Could it be any worse? Incidentally, Carlsberg Malawi was the first Carlsberg brewery outside of Denmark when it opened in 1968.

Two year ago Ceylon Cold Stores Limited launched its Elephant House Ginger Beer in the Maldives through the distributor Lily International. Lanka Business Today has reported that the drink has made significant progress in being distributed to all of the leading resorts. Elephant House Dry Ginger Ale has also been well received.

Meghalaya is a state in north east India. It is known for an abundance of acidic soil which is ideal for organic agriculture. Hence the state's designation as part of India's organic hub along with Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. I understand that many years of organic matter decay has contributed to the suitability for organic farming. For a country which produces and consumes huge quantities of ginger it is understandable that this region has been chosen to grow organic ginger. It is so important that the state government has organised organic ginger training courses to raise awareness, according to The Shillong Times.

Still in north east India and a potential clash between conservationists and ginger farmers. The Kukis, an ethic group also found in north west Burma and parts of Bangladesh, have asked the local council not to go ahead with a proposed tiger reserve of over 1,650 as it will affect the livelihood of 50,000 farmers and farm workers, many of whom are involved with the production of ginger. The Kukis say that 80 percent of the reserve is currently used for growing ginger. (Source: Telegraph India).

It may seem hard to believe but ginger farmers in some parts of Bhutan are throwing their produce away because they cannot find porters to take the harvest to market, according to the BBS broadcasting agency. It's both ridiculous and tragic.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ginger Beer Battered Fish, Organic Ginger & Mountain Water

Congratulations to Nick Attfield and The Fish Hut, his award-winning fish and chip van in Southwold, Suffolk. He has just won the Best Main Dish award for his Lowestoft Longline-Caught Cod In Ginger Beer Batter at the British Street Food Awards 2012.

I've just been reading an extract from Seaports of India and Ceylon by Allister Macmillan (published in 1925 I think). Remember, I read anything and everything about ginger. Anyway, there is a page on the New Colombo Ice Company from what was then known as Ceylon. The company made a non-alcoholic ginger beer under the Elephant brand name in amber glass bottles. It switched from stone to glass for hygiene reasons and because, as Macmillan says, "fearful things creep into stone bottles, and remain there undetected in death, however great care may be exercised in prevention".

In 1941, New Colombo Ice Company changed its name to Ceylon Cold Stores Limited which it had bought in 1934. In the 21st century, the Ceylon Cold Stores flagship product is Elephant Ginger Beer (commonly known as EGB). It is still sold in amber glass bottles.

Organic farming is becoming very popular in Uganda, according to a recent article in All Africa. The National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda represents the organic production of a wide range of crops including ginger. These crops, which command a higher price than non-organic products, are sent for export with the assistance of the Uganda Export Promotions Board. The export of organic ginger could be extremely profitable as it is becoming highly sought-after. At present, the major organic ginger exporters are China and India. The highly regarded organic ginger from Hawaii tends to be marketed on the US mainland.

The North Wales Brewery has an interesting unique selling point. Based on a hillside at Moelfre, near Abergele, the brewery produces a range of drinks from real ales to non-alcoholic ginger beer. But what makes the drinks of interest, according to the Daily Post, is the water. After becoming disenchanted with their domestic water supply, the owners brought in a water diviner to locate an alternative source. They eventually found water at 500ft and now pump up enough through the granite and slate to produce 3,000-4,000 pints a week.

Nepalese ginger exports through the Birgunj check point to India in the last fiscal year set a new record, according to The Himalayan. The 7,834 metric tonnes, worth Rs. 250.6 million, was three times higher than the previous year. Birgunj is Nepal's principal import and export point as well as being a major business centre.

Fresh Plaza reported on the big decline in the production of root crops in the Philippines during the first quarter of this year. It didn't state the reason why but two crops managed to buck this trend: ginger and sweet potato. What the article didn't mention was that ginger is often intercropped with sweet potato with both being grown under young coconut trees.

There's bad news for food shoppers in Pakistan, according to The News International. Apparently, now that summer season crops are giving way to winter season crops, prices of vegetables and salads have skyrocketed. The wholesale price of ginger has increased by 16%, a not inconsiderable sum.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Import Concerns, Loans Write-Off, Crabbie's Back & Big Kahuna

Australian ginger farmers will be meeting this week to discuss a report which recommends the import of fresh ginger rhizomes from Fiji. According to The Weekly Times, it appears that the farmers are not necessarily concerned about the competition but more about the possibility that the imports could introduce exotic pests and diseases into the country. If the Australian government does allow imports, the ginger will have to pass a number of stringent tests and abide by certain conditions. Naturally, the ginger will have to be free from soil and any other visible foreign matter. Once harvested, the ginger must be inspected and certified by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji. And finally, the ginger must be acceptable to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The Press Association revealed that Tesco stores in Scotland will stock the latest offering from Mackintosh of Glendaveny - a ginger flavoured rapeseed oil. That could be interesting. Ginger flavoured chips perhaps.

Last year, Crabbie's became one of Everton Football Club's official partners. The drinks company has announced on the club's website that it will be back for the start of the new season this coming weekend with the popular Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer and the newly rebranded John Crabbie's Cloudy Ginger Beer.

The Guardian from Nigeria carried an interview with Dr.Gloria Elemo, the Director-General of the Nigerian Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO). When asked what technological initiatives the institute has undertaken, Dr.Elemo responded with a number of examples including some ginger developments. The domestic production of ginger powder under the institute's guidance has reduced imports which has resulted in a corresponding saving in foreign exchange. And the production of ginger oleoresin (a naturally occurring mixture of resin and essential oil) has the potential, it is believed, to stimulate the rural economy.

Stone's Ginger Punch is now available for a limited period in 250ml cans decorated with the Union flag. The drink is a mix of ginger wine and lemonade (source: Packaging Europe).

The Indian state of Karnataka is normally one of the country's major ginger growing regions. I say "normally" because this year many parts of the state have been hit by a drought. For some unknown reason the monsoons decided to give this state a miss. To help ginger farmers (and producers of vanilla and arecanut), the repayment of up to Rs25,000 of loans has been waived. But, according to the Deccan Herald, the state government has been urged to waive all farm loans.

The Canadian Beer News announced that Vancouver-based Granville Island Brewing's Ginger Beer is returning again for the summer only. The 5.0% abv beer is brewed with malt, hops, yeast and Big Kahuna ginger from Hawaii.

Big Kahuna is an organic white ginger which is ideally suited to Hawaii. It has been widely distributed to growers throughout North America. But I did notice earlier this year that East Branch Ginger, a major ginger 'seed' supplier from Pittsboro in North Carolina, stopped supplying Big Kahuna for this season and replaced it with another Hawaiian organic variety called Da Kine Ruhi. This replacement variety differs from Big Kahuna in that it has yellow tips. Yellow in ginger indicates a high level of curcumin, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Diabetes Control, Ski On Ginger Beer, New Facility & Business Opportunity

A number of sources, including Australia's Sunshine Coast Daily, have reported the interesting news that ginger could help to control the blood sugar levels which create problems for long-term diabetics. A three-year study, conducted by the University of Sydney, found that ginger can increase the uptake of glucose into the muscle cells without the need for insulin. The ginger for the research was provided by Buderim Ginger from the neighbouring state of Queensland. (Additional source:

The UK Trade & Investment website is advertising a requirement from a Japanese importer who is interested in sourcing ready-to-drink (RTD) soft drinks such as ginger ale, fizzy apple juice and herb drinks from a UK supplier. The deadline is 31/10/12.

It is the time of the year for flu vaccinations in New Zealand. But stuff has reported that tradional flu remedies have been flying off the shelves on South Island. Supermarkets are reporting an increase in sales of ginger, lemon and garlic as people take additional or alternative precautions.

Still in New Zealand and a report in the Otago Daily Times. The US winter Olympic ski team has based itself in Queenstown for the southern hemisphere winter. I particularly enjoyed the comment from Tim Jitloff: "The first thing I go for is a ginger beer and a meat pie." Hmm. Heaven.

Over to Australia and Jägermeister, the German 35% abv digestif, is launching a new RTD on the domestic market, according to The Shout. Jägermeister Ginger Lime is a blend of Jägermeister, ginger root and fresh lime. The launch follows last year's successful introduction of Jägermeister & Ginger Beer.

The Hindu Business Line reports that ginger farmers in the Indian state of Kerala will be eagerly awaiting a new development. The state government has announced that it will set up an integrated spice processing facility with a capacity to process 7.5 tonnes of fresh ginger a day. Four tonnes will be marketed as cleaned and waxed ginger with the remainder being used to produce both ginger powder and ginger oil. The need for this new facility has been justified on the grounds that harvesting coincides with the rainy season which means that sun-drying is not an option.

I do like The Fiji Times coverage of ginger. One day it could be about the importance of exports to Australia and the next day it could be about selling at local markets. Last year, the Fijian Ministry of Agriculture introduced a scheme to reduce the level of ginger imports. The scheme involves, amongst other things, encouraging new entrants to the world of ginger farming. One such farmer has just been featured in The Fiji Times and he appears to be a very happy man after his first year.

But there are some Fijian ginger farmers who are not so happy. The Fiji Times reported last week that some farmers can produce a good crop but cannot afford to send it to market as the cost of transportation is to high. Something for the government to think about.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Ginger Beer, Ginger-Spiced Beer, Ginger Lager & Ginger Cider

If you think that his post seems like a drinks special, believe me, it is unintentional. There has just been a lot of drink-related activity recently.

The Brew Star brewery from Morpeth in Northumberland recently conducted a trial brew of Ginger & Fig Porter. No news yet on whether it will make a reappearance.

Gosling Brothers has launched its Stormy Ginger Beer on the UK on-trade market to create the definitive Dark ‘n Stormy, Bermuda’s official national drink. So next time you go to the pub you can ask for the real thing. And if the landlord doesn't have it, threaten to take your custom elsewhere! (Source:

If you live in New Zealand you'll be pleased to hear the latest news about Monteith's Brewery Company. Stuff reports that the Greymouth brewery has re-opened following a one year, $4 million refurbishment. Once the new bottling plant is up and running, production of a new beer, an alcoholic ginger beer, will commence.

The Times of Oman reports that Caribou Coffee, a leading US coffee chain, has launched three new iced teas in Oman with the most popular among Omanis being Lemon Ginger Pomegranate. That doesn't come as a surprise as ginger is widely used in the country.

A new beer has been launched by Jack's Abby Brewing from Massachusetts - Ginger & Juice. This lager beer is brewed with pureed ginger, grapefruit juice and peel, buckwheat and hops. This isn't the only ginger and grapefruit lager that I've found. Shiner Ruby Redbird, from the Spoetzl Brewery in Texas, uses red grapefruit.

Okanagan Premium Cider from British Columbia in Canada has added an innovative new flavour to its popular range, according to the Kelowna Capital News. The new flavour is Ginger Apple and it contains locally grown apples. I imagine that the ginger is imported.

I've found that ginger beers can have quirky names just like real ales. The latest I have encountered is Pigs Arse Chilli Ginger Beer from Irish Murphy in Brisbane. I know absolutely nothing about this beer; can someone help?

And finally, what do you make of this article in IOL? Hakanoa, the ginger beer maker from Auckland in New Zealand, ran an advertising campaign which referred to red-haired children as "ginger spawn". The press release accompanying the campaign said: "They say children are a blessing, but it's fair to say no parent sets out wanting a ginger child". It continued: "So ginger-beer maker Hakanoa has given those parents unfortunate enough to be cursed with ginger children the opportunity to swap them for something they will want". The campaign caused outrage. But Hakanoa responded a couple of days ago on Facebook by stating that the company did not create the ad. It was created by ginger-haired parents of ginger-haired children. These parents, who work in advertising, were concerned at the bullying their children suffered. Hakanoa and The Little Grocer (where you could collect the ginger beer) agreed to front the ad as a way of raising the issue. What do you think of it? Has it worked?

Friday, 27 July 2012

How Funny Do You Think You Are, Ice Cream, Beer & Beat The Heat

I shall start this week by congratulating Yorvale for winning both Best in Class & Best Ice Cream at the Great Yorkshire Show for its Lemon, Honey and Ginger ice cream. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's the ginger! Yorvale produces its ice cream from its own herd of 40 cows.

Asia's biggest food industry event, the Taipei International Food Show, was held at the end of last month with the aim of launching new products in both Taiwan and overseas. One of the participants was the Indonesian Trade Ministry who hosted a pavilion with the theme "Remarkable Indonesia". With Indonesia being one of the ginger world's major players, it won't surprise you to learn that one of the products on show was a ginger juice. Exports of Indonesian ginger root has dropped dramatically in recent years so I am wondering whether the export of value-added products such as ginger juice is the preferred option. In a previous post I mentioned that ginger from four countries including Indonesia will be part of the Sustainable Spices Initiative.

In the last fiscal year, India exported 5.75 lakh tonnes of spices, a near ten per cent increase over the previous year. Of this total, ginger contributed four per cent which equated to two per cent of earnings. Considering that the majority of Indian ginger is produced for domestic consumption, we can see that it is also an important foreign exchange earner. (In case you are wondering, a lakh is a unit in the numbering system used in the Indian subcontinent equal to one hundred thousand).

Denver's Westword blog reports that Crabtree Brewing is moving to larger premises. Why is this of interest? Well, the brewery will now be able to make more of its regular beers including Ginger Bee, a 6.5% abv blonde ale brewed with fresh hand-cut ginger and orange blossom honey.

Americans love to add ginger to blonde beers and wheat beers. This brings me to Calicraft, a three-month-old brewery in California, which brews a 4.6% abv ginger wheat beer called Napa Smith.

August 6th this year is the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence. Celebrations will be held all over the world including a programme of film, music and comedy shows in London called Respect Jamaica 50. And Retail Times informs us that the official soft drinks sponsor of these shows will be Old Jamaica ginger beer from Cott Beverages. I've never tried this drink but Jamaicans are said to be very proud of it as it contains their beloved local root ginger with its internationally renowned fiery taste.

Old Jamaica has also been busy (and, presumably, having a good time) conducting a survey on British humour. According to Digital Spy, the survey found that 55% of men believe that they are funnier than anyone else they know compared to just 22% of women.

If you visit the Old Jamaica website before July 30th, you can enter a joke in the You Can't Beat An Old Jamaican competition.

The Toronto Star carried a timely article on using ginger in drinks to keep cool in summer. I say 'timely' as here in the south of England we are experiencing days of very warm weather (30-32C). I know this is nothing compared to what the USA has been suffering from recently but after months of wind & rain, 30C is welcome. We all know that ginger in winter can be warming but ginger in summer can also be both refreshing and uplifting. Although the article is only concerned with cocktails and beers, it is still an interesting read.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Thomas Henry, More Wheat Beers & A Vegetarian Symbol

Mixology is the art of mixing alcoholic drinks. It is also the name of a German trade magazine for bartenders and drink connoisseurs. Recently the magazine contained an article comparing a number of ginger beers (Gosling's, Fentimans and Thomas Henry) from a German point of view. What attracted my attention most was Thomas Henry and the fact that, despite its name, it is a German company. The name refers to an 18th-century scientist and surgeon-apothecary from Manchester, England, who is credited with the first production of carbonated water. There is one thing that puzzles me about Thomas Henry the company. If you compare the English and German-language websites you will see that both sites refer to a ginger ale. But the English-language site also contains a ginger beer whereas the same drink on the German-language site is called "Spicy Ginger".

black & white, a newspaper from Birmingham, Alabama, reports the arrival of a Belgian-style witbier containing ginger. White Thai, from the Westbrook Brewing Company in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is spiced with lemongrass and ginger root and comes in at 5% abv. As we have seen in previous posts, the Americans love their witbier with ginger, something the Belgians appear to have missed.

And talking of previous posts, here's something I forgot to mention at the time. Two weeks ago the Monday Night Brewing Company from Atlanta, Georgia, launched Fu ManBrew, a 5.2% abv ginger wheat beer. This is the third offering from a brewery which began life in a weekly Bible study group.

Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Cold Stores has relaunched its Elephant Ginger Beer (EGB) in India to meet new vegetarian labelling requirements. These requirements state that vegetarian food and drink products on sale in India must be identified with a green dot. EGB uses natural ginger extracts produced by 250 farmers. (Source: Sunday Observer)

this is Somerset reported that a new ginger soft drink is about to be launched in the UK. KOJI Lemon & Ginger, from Future Drinks Ltd, is currently being bottled and will soon be launched in pubs, cafes and delicatessens in the South West. This Japanese-style infusion also contains persimmon, goji berries, hops, cranberry, lemon zest, and apple. I shall look forward to trying it.

The Public Ledger contained a small article about how Indian ginger prices have risen by nearly a quarter in recent weeks. This rise has been attributed to farmers growing less ginger than previous years because of recent low returns. And there is icing on the cake as well. The crop this year is looking very good. Unfortunately, I can't tell you any more about this article as we have to pay to find out.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Independence Ginger Tea, Celebrity Chefs & Welcome Price Rise

The Retail Gazette carried an interesting article on how UK supermarkets are boosting their sales and profits by working in partnership with a celebrity chef or two. In particular, the article mentioned the success at Waitrose following the launch of Delia Smith's recipe for Rhubarb & Ginger Brûlée. Within the first seven days of the launch 14 weeks' worth of rhubarb was sold and the sales of ginger jumped by more than 3000%. Must make a note of that; when I open my shop, find a famous chef.

Good news for ginger lovers in Germany. LWC Michelsen has brought out 18 new jams of which two are ginger & pineapple, and ginger extra. Apparently, Germans prefer jam rather than marmalade at breakfast so these are ideal if you need a bit of a kick first thing in the morning.

Following the recent launch of Adnams Ginger Beer (see post), the brewery has swiftly followed it with another new beer called Flame Runner. This limited edition 3.9% abv pale ale, launched to commemorate the London Olympics, has been brewed with malted barley from Europe, hops from Australasia, and spices from Africa, Asia and America. The brewery describes the beer as having a 'subtle ginger aroma' which I take to mean that it does actually contain ginger.

The Business Standard provided welcome news for Indian ginger farmers when it reported that the price of both bleached and unbleached ginger had risen by about 10% at the spices markets. The rise was attributed to renewed domestic interest and increased export demand coupled with restricted levels of imports. Presumably prices will fall again when imports increase.

The Daily Star yesterday reported that the Bangladesh Tariff Commission Chairman has criticised the business community for raising the prices of essential commodities just before the start of Ramadan next week. He said that ginger is being bought wholesale for Tk37 but sold retail for Tk75. Two weeks ago, Commerce Ministry officials, businessmen and traders agreed to limit profits to no more than ten percent during the month of fasting.

The Fiji Times, like many other news organisations, likes to print extracts from its archives. Recently it reprinted news from July 8th, 1966, which contained a reference to 457 cases of ginger being shipped to New Zealand on the Union Steam Ship company's MV Tofua. I don't know how much ginger this is by weight as the term 'case' does not have a definitive meaning in this context. The same vessel also carried 2912 cases of bananas.

The Jamaica Observer carried a business article about Jamaican Teas Ltd, a company which has a 50 percent share of the local market. Apparently, the company has a plan to produce a 100 percent Jamaican ginger tea to commemorate Jamaica's 50 years of independence. The only possible problem could be the difficulty in acquiring enough local ginger in time for Independence Day on the 6th August.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Boston Cooler, Ginger Smoothie & Waxed Ginger Beer

For the last few weeks, much of the USA has been enduring extremely high temperatures. I've just been reading that the temperature in Detroit has ranged from 36°C to 39°C and that an ideal way of staying cool is to drink a Boston cooler. No, I don't know what one is either but according to Wikipedia it is a mixture of vanilla ice cream and Vernors Ginger Ale. Despite the name, the drink was invented in Detroit and was known as far back as the 1880s. Have a go yourself with whatever you can lay your hands on (ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger wine etc) and let me know the result.

Last year, Q Drinks, the New York-based maker of natural sodas, launched a ginger ale called Q Ginger. I'm sure that our Spanish readers will be pleased to learn that the ginger ale is now available in Spain, according to Alimarket (and if my Google translation is correct).

I'm always interested to see how far north the Americans will attempt to grow ginger. The Enterprise, from Brockton in Massachusetts, mentions that Marta MacFarland is experimenting with ginger at her organic Rise and Shine Farm in the nearby town of Marshfield. I shall try to find out how the experiment is progressing.

Wales Online reported that the incessant rain which has fallen on the UK for what seems like months and months and months failed to deter visitors to the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival 2012. One stall holder pleased with the event was Roger Schmid of the Septimus Spyder Medieval Brewhouse from Burton-on-Trent who sold a range of soft drinks including his ginger beer. Interestingly, the company produce a ginger beer, a ginger beer special reserve and a sloe ginger beer in waxed bottles, and a ginger beer special reserve in a stoneware crock.

Fastmoving introduced me to a type of product which I never knew existed - ginger beer smoothie. Wild Island (a South African brand from the Ceres Beverage Company) makes a range of dairy fruit mix smoothies and it has just added Ginger Beer Smoothie. Sounds interesting.

The Centre for Rural Technology in Nepal has published some images of ginger drying in the sun. I've also found some great images of ginger in Jyoti Pathak's Taste of Nepal blog.

Still in Nepal and the Himalayan Times has reported on some good news for Nepali ginger farmers. Ginger exports for the first ten months of the current fiscal year (mid May) have reached Rs 323.2 million compared to RS 199.4 million for the same period in the last fiscal year. But the latest figure must be put into perspective as the export value for the year before (2009-10) was RS 302.6 million. The implication is that last year must be treated as an unfortunate blip caused , I believe, by a better than expected harvest in India, Nepal's principal export market.

I shall finish by introducing Mauritius, a relatively small member of the ginger producing community. A year ago the Minister of Agro Industry and Food Security warned that 70 percent of the products consumed by Mauritians are imported and that is a risky situation to be in. The country is now just over halfway through a seven year plan to increase annual ginger production from 1300 tonnes to 2500 tonnes. Last year's interim production target aimed to meet 80 percent of local consumption. The increase in production has been made possible by the micropropagation of imported ginger material. I must remember to come back to this in 2015 to see if the plan has been achieved.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Small Selection Of Ginger-Spiced Beers From Around The World

If you like your ginger and you like your real ale and you like the combination of both then this post is just for you. Ginger-spiced beers and ales are springing up all the time all around the world and this is a small selection of those new beers I've encountered just over the last few days.

Starting at home and last Saturday saw the launch of Adnams Ginger Beer. The brewery uses the pale ale malt wort used for its Broadside offering and then adds ginger, orange peel, lemon and lime zest. At 2.5% abv, this appears to be an extremely quaffable drink.

In the spring, Oxfordshire Ales started producing a limited-edition range of unusual beers. Under the name 'Baby Ox', these beers will be produced at the rate of one a month using rare hops and obscure ingredients and recipes. This month's offering is Ginger Ale Baby Ox, a rich copper ale with a hint of ginger.

Over to Italy. one of my favourite countries, and the Birrificio del Ducato brewery from the village of Roncole Verdi in the province of Parma. Here they produce New Morning, a Belgian Saison with added ginger and coriander. It is amazing how many brewers are producing ginger Saisons now. As a bonus, here are a couple of pieces of trivia: the beer is named after a Bob Dylan song, and the village is the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi.

Across the pond to Arizona now and a seasonal beer which is making an unseasonal return. San Tan Brewing Company's Winter Warmer will make an appearance on July 14th at the brewery's Christmas in July celebration. This ale is based on a traditional English Old Ale recipe and then spiced with 10lbs of fresh ginger and 10 gallons of Arizona orange blossom honey. Take care if you decide to pop along - it is 9.5% abv.

I may be a little to late with this one. It was early June that the Dogfish Head brewery released Konichiwit, a 4.9% abv Belgian-style wit bier made with fresh ginger root and wasabi. Availability is limited so it may well have already gone.

Up into Canada now and the Garrison Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The brewery is celebrating its 15th anniversary by brewing two special beers. The first is called 15th Anniversary Hops, Mango & Ginger and it is made with real mango, shaved fresh ginger and 15 varieties of hops.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Flying On Ginger, Running On Ginger & New Drinks

A Singapore Airlines guide recommends either drinking ginger ale or eating a ginger-based Oriental dish to combat airsickness, according to an article in The Australian. But the article does suggest that if you take the ginger ale option, let it go flat first. This is because carbonated drinks can cause bloating through the expansion of stomach gases when descending. And I'm sure we all know what happens with excess gas.

The Dorset Ginger Company has added to its increasingly popular range with the launch of a new variant, “Strong and Dark”. The company has built its reputation on the Dorset Original Ginger drink but, following customer research, found that a sizeable number wanted a stronger tasting version. Hence the aptly named new drink.

Over to Sydney now and the release of a ginger-spiced real ale for the Australian winter. The Malt Shovel Brewery has produced Ginger Chops Alcoholic Ginger Ale with an abv of 4.2%. It also contains a little Australian honey. A post on the brewery blog contains the following line: "It won’t cure the common cold, but it’s sure to keep your innards warm this winter, while you doze off and dream of all things ginger". I'm sure that they meant to write "... and dream of All Things Ginger".

Traditionally, the planting of ginger 'seed' in many parts of India starts with the onset of the monsoon season. The heavy and widespread rain is essential for the newly-planted ginger to become well established. The monsoon system which graces India is known as the Southwest monsoon, or 'Nairutya Maarut', and persists from June to September. But this year the rain has been somewhat erratic. The monsoon arrived three days later than predicted, moved across many, but not all, expected areas and then stopped for a week. According to the Deccan Herald, this absence of heavy rain in the state of Karnataka has affected the sowing of ginger, an important crop for many farmers. Information regarding the progress of the monsoon can be found at the India Meteorological Department website.

Business Standard reported that Indian ginger exports rose by 37% in the last financial year with a corresponding 69% increase in value. In terms of actual tonnage (21,550 tonnes) it is not that large for the world's biggest producer of ginger but it is still quite impressive when you consider that the vast majority of the country's output is for local consumption. So it is understandable that farmers are concerned when their planting schedule is disrupted.

Two new styles of drinks have been launched in the USA, neither of which I have encountered before. The first concerns Mamma Chia which has launched three new chia-based vitality beverages including Grapefruit Ginger. Chia, or Salvia hispanica, is a flowering plant from the mint family which is grown in central America and neighbouring regions for the seeds it produces.

The second launch concerns Reed’s, Inc., maker of a range of non-alcoholic ginger drinks, which has entered the Kombucha market with the launch of four ginger-based flavours in its new Culture Club Kombucha range. Kombucha is an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea which originated in Northeast China and is now appearing around the world (but not, it seems, where I live).

I've just discovered Jeremiah Weed Root Brew at a local supermarket. Naturally, I bought a bottle which I plan to open in the next few days. I'll let you know what I think.

The grough website reported on the remarkable endurance feat of Colin Meek who has just completed a 30-day 600 mile run along Scotland's watershed. This watershed is a drainage divide which runs north to south through the country separating river systems which flow to the east from those which flow to the west. As well as running such a distance, Colin had to climb over 30 munros. A munro is a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet high. What brought this article to my attention was that he sustained himself with Fentimans Ginger Beer.

Today (July 1st) is officially Canada Day although, as it is Sunday this year, tomorrow is the statutory holiday. To celebrate the day, Ipsos-Reid conducted a survey of which one question was to select a national drink. Although beer topped the list with 42%, ginger ale came in a creditable fourth with 17%. Happy birthday Canada!

Still in Canada and a potted history about Canada Dry Ginger Ale in the National Post. The article mentioned that the drink received praise from the 8th Duke of Devonshire who pronounced it "the champagne of ginger ales". He must have known what he was talking about; he had been the British Secretary of State for India. India introduced the British to the pleasures of ginger.

Two weeks ago I wrote about a ginger flavoured Belgian Saison-style beer from Utica in New York. Saison beers, it appears, are becoming increasingly popular in the US. I have found another one and this time it is on the other side of the country in San Diego, California. The Green Flash Brewery has created Saison Diego, an unfiltered golden ale with orange peel, grains of paradise and Chinese ginger. Grains of paradise, or Aframomum melegueta, is a member of the ginger family.

Last week I highlighted the concern shown by Queensland's Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry minister about the bacterial dangers of importing fresh ginger from Fiji. This concern has now been backed by the president of the Australian Ginger Growers Association, Anthony Rehbein. According to News Mail, he fears that Fijian ginger could have unknown diseases and strains that are more virulent than anything in Australia. He is also concerned that the price of Fijian ginger could drive down the price of domestically grown ginger to the point were it would become uneconomic.

There is good news for Bangladeshi shoppers this Ramadan, according to The Daily Star. In past years the price of basic commodities such as ginger has risen to exorbitant levels during the month of fasting. But this year Commerce Ministry officials, businessmen and traders have agreed to limit profits to no more than ten percent.

Another piece of scientific research using ginger and yet another one from Nigeria. The study, 'Effect of chronic intake of Zingiber officinale (ginger) enriched diet on the gastrointestinal sections of albino rats', was conducted by the Department of Biochemistry at the Federal University Of Technology. The research demonstrated the digestive stimulatory effect of ginger.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Ginger Research, Prevent Rot & Politics To Ginger Ale

I came across two articles last week about a possible link between weight loss and ginger consumption. I would like it to be known that I wasn't actively looking for weight loss tips but, if I'm honest, I could lose a few pounds. Anyway, let's start with a Chinese diabetes site, diabeter. It mentioned a study which found that ginger, as a thermogenic food, increases the metabolic rate which, in turn, increases energy output. Basically, it purports to burn off the calories.

The second article, in Food Product Design, was a report on a study with the lengthy title "Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot study". This study, conducted by the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University in New York, has found that drinking a hot ginger beverage with breakfast can reduce feelings of hunger in overweight men later in the day.

Fentimans is a well-known and well-loved non-alcoholic drinks company which has been around for over one hundred years. It was started by Thomas Fentiman in 1905 when he acquired a recipe for a botanically-brewed ginger beer. Although the company has brought out a range of non-ginger drinks over the years, it is only now that a new ginger drink has been created. Big Hospitality has reported that Fentimans has launched a botanically-brewed ginger ale mixer, but only for the on-trade. It has been developed as an accompaniment to whisky and contains galangal, cinnamon and pear juice.

Earlier this month I wrote about Nigerian research into using ginger and garlic to extend the shelf life Kunun-zaki, a popular local non-alcoholic drink. Well, Nigerian scientists have been at it again. The Journal of Stored Products and Postharvest Research published a report earlier this year entitled "Storage and consumer acceptability of fruit: Ginger based drinks for combating micronutrient deficiency". Fruits are an excellent source of micronutrients for Nigerians (anyone, in fact) but, as we all know, the level of micronutrients starts to decrease soon after harvesting. This study found that adding ginger to a range of fruit juices (pineapple, orange & paw-paw) reduced the presence of microorganisms noticeably as long as the drinks were kept refrigerated.

The Fiji Times informed us that last year Fiji earned $30.4 million from the export of root crops and vegetables. Out of this figure, ginger accounted for an $6.4 million, an impressive 21%. A government official said that agriculture is the backbone of Fiji's economy and that farmers and investors should be encouraged to expand the sector with the backing of government time and resources.

Fiji exports most of its ginger to Australia although it is attempting to enter European markets. Understandably, Fiji would like to increase its ginger exports to Australia. But, according to My Sunshine Coast, there could be a slight problem. Queensland's Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry minister, John McVeigh, has said that he will fight the Federal government's decision to allow imports of fresh ginger from Fiji. He claims that the ginger could harbour bacterial diseases and contaminated soil.

India's Daily News & Analysis was one of many sites to report on a joint venture between Gujarat University and the Confederation of Indian Industries. They will create the Centre of Excellence in Nano Technology to extract natural dyes from turmeric, ginger, garlic and leaves using environmentally-friendly methods.

Research into the medical uses of ginger is taking place all around the world. I noticed that last Thursday was the closing date for volunteers to register for an Iranian clinical trial called "The effects of ginger on hypertension in patients with type 2 diabetes". This could be a significant study as cases of both hypertension (or high blood pressure) and diabetes are increasing markedly.

For those of you interested in growing ginger, Jamaica's The Gleaner published some advice from the government's Department of the Rural Agriculture Development Authority on how to prevent rhizome rot (part 2). This disease affects ginger crops in many parts of the world so it is well worth a read.

Still in Jamaica and the government's Agriculture and Fisheries minister, Roger Clarke, who has said that ginger production is among the fastest growing agricultural sectors globally. That's what I like to hear.

I found a fascinating business start-up story on Richmond BizSense, a business site for Richmond, Virginia. Casey Werderman has launched Humdinger Craft Soda with its first offering being Humdinger Ginger Ale. I'd be interested to know whether locally grown ginger is used (if you haven't seen previous posts, ginger is actually grown in Virginia, some close to Richmond). Casey works full-time as a public affairs manager but his previous job was as chief of staff to a Virginia Senate Majority Leader.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Silver Sofi™, Crabbie's Sauces, Ginger Lager & Rising Prices

I'll start this week by congratulating those ginger products which are the National Association for the Speciality Food Trade's 2012 sofi™ Silver Finalists. This year's runners-up, to be honoured tomorrow in Washington D.C, are Japanese Ginger Chocolate Bar from Romanicos Chocolate, Ginger Peach Black Tea from The Republic of Tea, Ginger Soother from The Ginger People and The Latest Scoop Ginger Pear Sorbet from Cable Car Delights. You can see the other silver finalists here. Hopefully I will have a list of gold award winners next week.

Crabbie's was in the news again last week. This time, according to The Drum, it has launched two ginger flavoured sauces, Ginger Spiced Sweet Chilli Sauce and Sweet Ginger Splash, in the Asda supermarket chain. The sauces have been created in partnership with the increasingly popular sauce company, Trees Can't Dance.

Halewood International, producer of the Crabbie's range, plans to double in size, says the Liverpool Daily Post. It will be interesting to see how Crabbie's con>tributes to this growth.

The Retail Times reported that Firefly Natural Drinks has teamed up with Selfridges to launch a limited edition lemon, lime & ginger drink in a collectable yellow bottle. The drink will be available in all Selfridges stores to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.

Lance Seeto is an Australian chef who works at the Castaway Island restaurant in Fiji and who also writes a weekly column for The Fiji Times. His column last week described how he was struggling to shake off cold symptoms brought on by the start of winter. Naturally, he was advocating the use of ginger as one of the remedies to strengthen the immune system. I've never really thought about winter in Fiji. According to Wikipedia, the average winter temperature in Fiji is a chilly 22C (72F). Where I live in the UK the average summer temperature seems to be a positively balmy 22C. It's all relative, I suppose.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Ted Baker, the British-owned international fashion chain, celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee week by giving out free ginger beer in its shops.

The Americans love their malt & hop beers with added ginger. The Utica Observer-Dispatch reports that the local FX Matt Brewing Company has launched a limited-edition Saranac Lemon Ginger in the style of a Belgian Saison. A Saison is a pale ale brewed for harvesting farm workers in Wallonia, and, by definition, is also for a limited period.

Still in the US and the Minneapolis St.Paul Business Journal introduced us to a new brewery and taproom called 612Brew. The brewery will launch with two regular beers and a summer seasonal beer (the one of interest to me) by the name of "Mary Ann". Mary Ann, named after a character from the 1960s TV series Gilligan's Island, is a German-style lager with added freshly grated ginger. Ginger is also a character from Gilligan's Island.

I'm always pleased when a restaurant uses ginger prominently in its signature dish. These dishes help to spread the word about ginger far beyond places where it is grown. The latest signature dish which I have discovered (on the Internet, that is, not in person) is Chocolate & Ginger Venison, from the Hildebrand Ristorante in Cape Town. A number of South African websites describe it as a fusion of Italian flavours and African flair.

Unfortunately, there was a ginger product recall last week. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported that Scholtens Inc has recalled Granny Appleton Crystallized Ginger in 125g packs owing to the presence of sulphites. The recall applies to packs sold in Ontario. I'm not sure whether sulphites are supposed to be in this product or that the level is too high.

In recent years, manufacturers have become more aware of the problems which sulphite ingestion can cause, particularly for those with respiratory disorders. Four years ago Queensland's Buderim Ginger started a two-year project to determine whether chlorine dioxide could replace sulphites as the preservative of choice. I've never read about the project's outcome but here is an interesting, and recent, report from the Queensland government on the same topic.

A smile must be returning to the face of many a ginger farmer in southern India. And the reason why? The price of ginger has actually started to rise. With most Indian ginger harvested during May and imported ginger not set to arrive yet, there is now a shortage in markets countrywide. This shortage has naturally translated into a rise in price. One farmer was so surprised by the increase that he decided to sell his crop which had been set aside for next season's seed. But some Indian farmers have missed out on the near three-fold increase in recent weeks. Farmers from Kerala leased land in the neighbouring state of Karnataka. As the leases expired by the end of May, these farmers had to harvest and sell their crops before the price started to rise. It is feared that the price will fall in the near future as cheaper imports from China reach the markets. (Sources: The Hindu, mathrubhumi, Deccan Herald)

Still in India and a story in The Telegraph about a ginger farmer in the state of Assam. An important source of income for him is the export of his ginger to Bangladesh. The best financial return is gained by exporting dry ginger as the drying process retains the quality and increases the shelf life. Unfortunately for him, there are no drying facilities in the region which means that he can only export ginger flakes. These flakes, which I imagine are painstakingly air-dried, have a more limited use and, consequently, a lower value.

Queensland's Sunshine Coast Daily has reported on a leaking dam and the potentially damaging consequences for ginger farmers who rely on the water supply. It hasn't been a problem so far as recent rain has replaced the leaking water but this can't continue once the weather changes.