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.

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