The commencement of Gulfood 2024 in Dubai has revived Indian cardamom exporters’ hopes to gain a competitive edge vis-à-vis Guatemalan produce in the Gulf markets for the ensuing Ramadan fasting season, which begins from March.

Though shippers are anticipating stiff competition from Guatemala, the lower price for Indian cardamom in the current season has raised their hopes. It was because of higher prices, the Indian cardamom had lost its business last year and the current price difference of $5 per tonne with Guatemalan crop is expected to fetch good sales this time, exporters said adding that the domestic price is ruling in the range between ₹1,450-1,500 per kg.

However, the worsening Red Sea crisis is creating a hurdle for exporters in sending the cargo to all the Gulf countries other than Dubai leading to transit delays for almost two weeks and higher cost due to diversion of ships. The emerging situation has resulted in delays in realising funds from abroad, thereby affecting the cash flow in the domestic market as well, a cardamom exporter in Vandanmedu in Idukki said.

Buyers face dilemma

M Dhanavandan, the Bodinayakanur based cardamom exporter who is in Dubai for Gulfood 2024, told businessline that many buyers found Indian prices to be favourable this time, generating interest in purchasing the crop from this region.

However, buyers faced a dilemma for making their purchases. With new crop arrivals and existing stocks of Guatemalan bought at lower prices during times when Indian crop prices were higher, decision-making became more complex. The approaching Ramadan sales also added another layer of complexity to the equation, he said.

The unpredictability of Indian cardamom prices further compounded buyers’ concerns. The question of whether prices would increase in the near future or remain stable at current levels, and whether it was prudent to book cargo now or wait for potential price drops during the onset of new arrivals, loomed large, he added.

Unstable domestic market

According to PC Punnoose, General Manager, KCPMC Ltd, the domestic market is unstable because of a lower demand and subdued export buying since January. The early Ramadan this time has facilitated buyers in the Gulf nations to cover their requirements and the market is expecting a positive trend only when the export buying starts.

Likewise, the upcountry markets in many North Indian cities are slow and the farmers’ strike in Haryana has further worsened the situation, leading to a disruption in truck movement.

Cardamom production is at the fag end of the season and the next crop is expected to start by June depending on the arrival of south-west monsoon, he said.