​Caterpillar Fungus Viagra Now Worth More Than Gold

Author: Jennifer HongBy:
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July 12, 2012

The value of caterpillar fungus has been climbing since May and it could replace drugs like Viagra because it’s now worth more than gold and has skyrocketed since the first day of this month.

The fungus — grown in western regions including Qinghai, Sichuan and Tibet — is believed by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine to give a person extra energy, though many (read: men) who take it are seeking to improve their sexual performance.

That latter use has led to the fungus being referred to in some quarters as Himalayan Viagra.

The China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine says on its official website that the average price of major types of the fungus has risen by 30% year-on-year, with prices ranging from $59,660 per kilogram to $21,970 per kilogram for different species, a 10-year high. Varieties grown in Tibet trade at the highest prices.

The retail price of caterpillar fungus is getting even higher. Premium caterpillar fungus can be bought for 888 yuan ($139) per gram from Tongren Tang, one of China’s most prominent traditional Chinese medicine-focused pharmaceutical companies, twice the current price of gold, which is running about 338 yuan per gram.

The price of caterpillar fungus has been on a steep uphill in recent years. “I am impressed by the price miracle of caterpillar,” said Zheng Pu, a local Chinese traditional medicine dealer in Guangzhou, in an interview. “In 2004, one kilo would trade for about 25,000 yuan, but now, the cheapest in my store is sells for more than 200,000 yuan per kilo.”

Despite the climbing price, experts say the fungus doesn’t make a good investment vehicle because storage and evaluating quality are both difficult. The average person is not capable of telling the caterpillar’s quality, and it lacks liquidity in the market.

The domestic price of caterpillar fungus has long been a rollercoaster ride. It reached a high in 2007 but dropped to less than half of the peak price in April 2009. Inflation and speculative crazes are blamed for most cases. The slump in 2009 was also caused by sales reduction stemming from cases, in which iron wires were mixed into caterpillar fungus to add more weight for selling.

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