Skip to content
Subscriber Only

How Canada Came to Dominate the Global Supply of Ginseng

Ginseng for sale in Toronto's Chinatown.

Ginseng for sale in Toronto's Chinatown.

Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

On a drizzly spring morning in a small town in rural Ontario, an event hall fills up with farmers who dominate production of one of the world’s most valuable crops: ginseng.

In a sea of baseball caps, camouflage-print jackets and jeans, more than 100 growers have come for their annual association meeting. The gathering in Delhi, a town of 4,000, is the biggest turnout in a long time, because, after years of stellar growth, a mystery has enveloped the industry―their biggest customer has disappeared.