Peru's ginger exports soar during pandemic
Peru said Wednesday its exports of ginger almost tripled during the coronavirus pandemic, as the spice is seen as a natural immune system booster.
Ginger shipments showed "sustained growth of 168 percent in the first quarter" compared to the same period in 2019, the ministry of commerce announced.
Most of the exports went to Spain, the Netherlands and the United States.
Spanish imports of Peruvian ginger increased more than 500 percent.
Ginger, also known as kion in Peru, is rich in antioxidants and has medicinal benefits such as "strengthening the immune system," the ministry said in a statement.
"This last reason is likely to explain the increase in consumption given this pandemic scenario."
Ginger with lemon juice in tea and other hot drinks is one of the most widely cited natural remedies on social media since the pandemic erupted.
Experts have cautioned there is no definitive evidence that home remedies such as ginger can treat or cure an infection from the novel coronavirus.
Ginger is a traditional remedy for colds and influenza in Peru, the world's fourth-largest exporter after China, Thailand and India.
In 2019, it exported 23,400 tons of ginger for $41.5 million.
The Andean country has the second highest number of COVID-19 infections in South America after Brazil, with more than 208,000 cases -- and the third-highest number of deaths, more than 5,900.