Covid-19 scare shoots up demand for India’s raw turmeric


PUNE: Turmeric sales to Europe and West Asia have shot up because its medicinal properties are getting renewed attention at the time when the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, traders said.

Concerns over the virus have also boosted domestic sales of fruits and vegetables, while the poultry industry is struggling to sell chicken even after a steep fall in prices.

Raw turmeric is often used with hot milk, which is believed to keep the respiratory system healthy.


“The overall jump in export demand for fruits and vegetables has increased by 15%. But we have seen the demand for raw turmeric jump by 300%,” said Kaushal Khakhar, chief executive officer at Kay Bee Exports.

Exporters said cancellation of flights has made it difficult for the traders to fully take advantage of the opportunity.

The demand for raw turmeric has risen sharply in the UK and Germany, said Khakhar.

Rajiv Gupta, exporter of vegetables and fruits from Mumbai, also confirmed the increased interest of corona-affected countries in consuming raw turmeric.

“November to January is the normal season for harvest of raw turmeric, when I used to export 3-4 tonnes of the spice per day. After onset of summer season in February, the demand begins to decline. However, since last 10 days, there is a sudden increase in export demand of raw turmeric,” said Gupta.

From about 300 kg of raw turmeric that he was exporting everyday by end of February, the demand has shot up to 3 tonnes a day in March.

“However, as the air movement has been restricted, the availability of air space for cargo has reduced by about 90%,” he said.

Consumers are stocking up foods that they think are healthy and will help fight the Covid-19 infection. Rumours linking consumption of poultry with coronavirus have created a crisis in the poultry industry as farmers are not able to liquidate their stocks at even a quarter of the price prevailing before the coronavirus outbreak in India. As a corollary of all in consumption of non vegetarian food, increase in the overall demand for fruits and vegetables has been reported by traders.

“We have observed that the demand for fruits and vegetables has increased by 5% to 10%. However, there is no increase in prices as we have surplus supplies,” said Shankar Pingale, director, Agricultural Produce Market Committee, Vashi.

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