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The smell of success: Chinese investors profit from garlic

 Chinese investors have been turning away from China's volatile stock and real estate market, and investing their money in a surer bet: garlic.

Yang Fei doubled his money last year buying and selling in the unofficial garlic capital of the world. He did pretty well the year before, too, and the year before that.
 
One of a few dozen garlic agents in Jinxiang, in China’s eastern Shandong province, 34-year-old Yang is at the centre of a trade that has attracted a small group of retail investors, mainly wealthy businessmen, reports Reuters. When prices are low around the spring harvest, investors buy as much of the crop as they can, put it into store, and release it on to the market when prices rise later in the year.
 
“Manipulating the garlic market and hyping the price is pretty simple compared to the stock market and real estate. Many of my clients have stocked tens of thousands of tonnes of garlic and don’t sell it until the price rises,” another agent, Liu Yunfei, told Reuters.
 
Yang’s profits and those of his dozen or so clients ballooned to 7 million yuan (£758,182) last year, when the price of garlic rose to 10.6 yuan ($1.62) per kilogram.
 
“For the last three years, our investors have made money, we made a 100 percent profit last year,” said Yang, who has built five warehouses for garlic storage and plans another four.
 
This year, though, may be different.
 
The one-way bet on garlic has lured many new investors, driving prices up to a record 13.4 yuan/kg in March, much earlier than usual. Also, frosts in China at the turn of the year hit plantings and yields, and that could squeeze margins when the investors’ stored garlic comes on to the market later.
 
 
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