Markets and marketing

Ginseng is traded by weight as dried or fresh whole roots, with different prices paid for approximately 40 market grades. Some 95% of all ginseng production is consumed in Asia. In major Asian and Japanese centres American ginseng is the preferred choice. The Koreans prefer their own product. Since little was available or known about American ginseng until recently, Asian ginseng has dominated Australian markets.

Little private trading occurs in China or Korea, although this should change with new government regulations. Trading in North America takes place at the farm-gate, although cooperative or network marketing is becoming popular there. This type of marketing is being considered by Australian growers. Successful profits can also be made by growers who manufacture and market retail products.

Australian-grown 7-year-old roots, both fresh and dried, have been sold to Singapore based on the

Wild American price plus 20%. Smaller quantities of aged fresh and dried roots are also being sold at similar prices within Australia. These are mainly private sales to Asian residents.

Singapore buyers are keen to purchase more Australian-grown ginseng to satisfy client demands for top-quality roots.

Market trends are best assessed from North American information. Similar information from China and Korea is difficult to correlate. In 2003 North American production exceeded 2,500 t at prices that ranged from as low as $60/kg for artificial Shade 4-year-old-roots to $1,800/ kg for Wild American roots. Oriental production dwarfs the North American production but prices start at $25/kg, with no records for wild ginseng.

The Australian Ginseng Growers Association remains committed to helping its members to market as an entity. Continual appraisal of world market trends pinpoints the ongoing need for top-quality aged roots. This is a niche market which

Mature ginseng plants with ripe berries for seed production

is not being supplied from the rest of the world's ginseng production. Sales will be directed both within Australia and overseas. The staging of the International Ginseng Conference 2004 (IGC) in Melbourne gave further direction for achieving top sales within this niche market. Australian growers are very excited about their potential to realise these goals in the near future.

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