Wis­con­sin gin­seng a prized gift in China

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@ chinadailyusa.com

As Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tions wind down, stores in China will re­stock their shelves with some­thing from the United States that has be­come a fa­vorite gift for the hol­i­day: gin­seng grown in Wis­con­sin.

Wis­con­sin’s gin­seng crop is so val­ued in China that it has spawned a coun­ter­feit busi­ness which threat­ens to un­der­mine its value and brand mar­ketabil­ity, ac­cord­ing to Tom Hack, in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing direc­tor for the Gin­seng Board of Wis­con­sin.

“I think that the con­sumers (in China) rec­og­nize that some­thing from the US is safe and the Chi­nese fa­vor our brand be­cause of its stronger fla­vor. Gin­seng is also a popular New Year’s gift,” he told China Daily.

The Chi­nese have used gin­seng for thou­sands of years be­liev­ing that it helps ev­ery­thing from en­hanc­ing sex­ual per­for­mance to re­duc­ing stress. It is also an im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent in Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine. Wild and cul­ti­vated Amer­i­can gin­seng is prized in China and other Asian coun­tries for its po­tency and taste. Asian con­sumers be­lieve that Amer­i­can gin­seng – es­pe­cially the Wis­con­sin prod­uct - is su­pe­rior for its abil­ity to cool and soothe the body while Asian va­ri­eties are con­sid­ered hot and stim­u­lat­ing.

A long win­ter and fairly heavy snow cover give Wis­con­sin gin­seng grow­ers an ad­van­tage. Af­ter gin­seng seeds are planted, it takes 18-21 months be­fore they ger­mi­nate, Hack said. Wis­con­sin’s win­ters pro­vide cover un­til the plants emerge in May and then are har­vested in the fall.

“We don’t har­vest the roots un­til they have been in the ground for three to four years,” said Hack. “I think this is what gives our prod­uct a bet­ter qual­ity.”

The state has a long his­tory with gin­seng. “Wis­con­sin was the first state to cul­ti­vate and ex­port gin­seng to China,” said Jen­nifer Lu, an eco­nomic devel­op­ment con­sul­tant with the Wis­con­sin Depart­ment of

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Wis­con­sin

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