Poor crop last year leads to shortage; traders strike deals to buy at ₹675/kg

India has begun to import nutmeg from Sri Lanka following production shortfall.

Poor crop last season led to a shortage and consequent rise in prices, according to market sources. As a result, dealers are importing from Sri Lanka, said an importer who struck some deals with traders in Colombo last week. He told Business Line that against the domestic price of ₹725 a kg, nutmeg rate in Sri Lanka was ₹675 .

He said that mace production in India is also short of the demand. Against demand of 1,500 tonnes, mace production is only 800 tonnes, the trader said.

According to market sources, total indigenous production of nutmeg was 11,000 tonnes. From this nearly 8,000 tonnes of nutmeg with shell could be recovered. The mace recovered will come to only 10 per cent i.e., 800 tonnes. The next crop is due in June-July. Some growers in growing areas of Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts in Kerala said the crop was poor last year due to unfavourable weather conditions.

India and Indonesia are the two main producers of the spice. Others are Sri Lanka and Grenada, which produce a small quantity. Principal importers are the European Union, the US, Japan and India. Singapore and the Netherlands are major re-exporters. Also, the Gulf is a major market.

During April-September 2013, India exported 2,700 tonnes of nutmeg and mace worth ₹155.85 crore at an unit value of ₹577.21 a kg. Against this, exports during the same period the previous year were 1,225 tonnes valued at ₹90.86 crore at the unit value of ₹741.73 a kg. Indian output of nutmeg with shell is estimated at around 11,000 tonnes and when the outer meat is removed it would come to about 8,000 tonnes.

Domestic demand for mace is estimated at around 1,500 tonnes a year and the production this year estimated at little over 50 per cent of the requirement, traders said. Meanwhile, one section of the trade said the requirement of nutmeg has ranged between 13,000 tonnes (without shell) and 15,000 tonnes, of late, given its growing use in indigenous medicines/drugs, cosmetics and in various food products. The demand includes exports which range between 1,500 and 3,000 tonnes depending upon availability.

(This article was published on February 11, 2014)
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