Heads of garlic.

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Chinese Tariffs Bring Sweet Smell Of Success For Gilroy Garlic Growers

Matt Bigler
May 20, 2019 - 10:22 am

GILROY — Everything's coming up roses for Gilroy garlic growers these days as the trade war between the United States and China continues to escalate.

The rising tensions between the two countries could have a major impact on the global economy, but the Bay Area farmers say the latest round of tariffs on Chinese products will open opportunities to expand their markets. 

The bottom line is that demand for California garlic is expected to spike as the new 25% tariffs on Chinese imports, including what had been inexpensive garlic, takes effect. 

Ken Christopher of Christopher Ranch, the nation's biggest garlic grower, told KPIX-5 the tariffs will level the playing field with China, which he accuses of "garlic dumping," or selling the aromatic seasoning at prices below the costs of production. 

"Having Chinese garlic be more competitive and actually play by the fair rules of the market means the world to me and my family," he said. "My dream scenario is that with this 25% tariff it's going to be so much that the Chinese might actually start turning away the containers, away from the U.S. "

Christopher Ranch is the biggest employer in Gilroy, with a workforce of 1,000 employees. What's good for garlic growers like them is good for Gilroy's economy as a whole, said Joanne Fierro, an employee at the Gilroy Garlic Shop. 

"It's extremely important, especially my job here, because we rely on the garlic to bring the customers in," she said. 

Production lines at the Ranch could soon be shifting into high gear, and Christopher is hoping the Chinese tariffs affecting garlic are permanent. 

"As demand for California [garlic> goes up, we can continue to invest in our workforce, in our infrastructure, in our manufacturing, which means more jobs, and more economic activity for our area in South County," he said.