The price of ginger could skyrocket in China as demand increases, coinciding with shortages of supply.

With a history of providing health benefits, the demand for ginger has seen an increase in China during the flu season, according to Global Markets China (GMC) research.

The timing of the demand increase coincides with supply shortages, effecting upward price pressures in a way that has speculators wondering about a potential repeat of the current demand hysteria over garlic, the researcher said today (4 December).

Garlic, also believed to have flu-fighting properties, has seen wholesale prices increase by as much as 1500% since March.

By comparison, retail ginger prices have increased just 85% in China in under a year. But a similar price spike may be seen in ginger, GMC says, as Chinese consumers and speculators begin to hoard the spice, commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds and other ailments.

David Anderson, a director with GMC Group China, said: "It's quite incredible, with parallels to "tulip mania" from the 1630's in the Netherlands. We've seen large numbers of speculators shifting money from mainstream assets, piling it into garlic in the hope of turning a quick profit."

Ginger, along with garlic, is one of the most important ingredients in the cuisines of India, China, Thailand and Japan.