Scorching heat wave conditions in many North Indian consuming markets has taken a toll on pepper demand with its prices remaining steady for the past 2-3 weeks with marginal changes.

Prices of ungarbled varieties are now ruling at ₹515-520 per kg, while that of garbled varieties at ₹535-540.

Traders pointed out that there has been a slowing demand in the upcountry consuming markets as buyers preferred to stay at indoors during most of the days to get themselves protected from the heat wave. This has also affected industrial demand forcing masala manufacturers to reduce their pepper intake.

However, traders are expecting a revival in demand with the starting of summer rains. Besides, the commencement of wedding season after Akshaya Tritiya is also expected to perk up demand, they said.

But traders are also worried over the rising Covid cases which may dent the prospects of business.

Kishore Shamji, a pepper trader in Kochi, said because of the subdued demand, farmers are reluctant to release their available stock. However, the stock position with the farmers in Karnataka and Kerala is also limited due to the uncertain climatic conditions in these regions. They anticipate a smaller crop this year.

Quoting reports, Shamji cited the increased availability of imported pepper in many North Indian markets under mis-declaration as scraps. Even there are reports on the availability of Brazilian pepper in Delhi markets at ₹510, he added.