The upcoming festival season in India has resulted in demand increasing for black pepper, especially from upcountry markets, resulting in prices increasing. Prices at the Kochi terminal market are now ruling at ₹490-500 per kg, while bolder berries from Wayanad and Kodagu are getting a premium in the range between ₹520 and ₹525, mainly from end-users.

Kishore Shamji, a pepper trader in Kochi, said the upcountry markets would soon commence with activities ahead of festival season that starts with Karkataka Vavu by mid-July, followed by Muharram, Ganesh Chathurthi and this would reflect in the demand for pepper from masala manufacturers as well. There are reports of dealers holding back the commodity, anticipating further rise in prices.

Brazilian variety

Moreover, the delayed start of mango season this year has also revived the demand for pepper from the pickle industry which procures good quantities for their requirements. However, the illegal entry of Brazilian pepper into the domestic market is posing a threat. At the same time, the detection of Salmonella bacteria in the Brazilian produce is a concern for those who concentrate on the export market.

The domestic market in Ernakulam and neighbouring centres are also getting pepper which was released from NCDEX warehouses after being kept in the warehouses for a long period following a legal dispute. This particular commodity is sold directly to primary market dealers at a price of ₹485-490. The quantity was around 7,000 tonnes and some portion was damaged in the 2018 floods.

The farming community has raised a concern regarding the incessant rains in Kerala as it has started damaging pepper vines in many parts. This may impact this year’s crop which is expected to harvest by December. Pepper production last year was 65,000 tonnes.