Rising imports have kept black pepper prices steady in the domestic market over the past few days, affecting demand.
Against the domestic price of ₹631 per kg for ungarbled. pepper, the consuming markets in North India are reported to have received imported commodities at their doorstep at ₹600-625. This, according to traders, has drastically reduced the demand for domestically produced pepper from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Kishore Shamji, president of Indian Pepper and Spices Traders Association (IPSTA), said pepper imports are on the higher side and stood at around 3,800 tonnes in August alone. The farming community alleged that Vietnam pepper is clandestinely entering the domestic market at $3,000-3,500 compared with $8,025 for Indian pepper.
Plea to raise output
According to Shamji, domestic pepper demand is on the rise on account of increased procurement by masala manufacturers ahead of the festival season.
Meanwhile, the Indian Pepper & Spices Traders Growers Planters Consortium – Kerala chapter has submitted a memorandum to a visiting Parliamentary Standing Committee, seeking measures to increase domestic pepper production. Indian pepper production stood at 65,000 tonnes against consumption of 85,000 tonnes, leading to dependence on imports.
The consortium wanted the committee to impress upon the Agriculture Ministry the need to support pepper farming at the grassroots to increase domestic production. Pepper production in 2024 is likely to be around 50,000 tonnes due to shortage of rains and this is expected to spur more imports. Speculative buying in the recent period has pushed pepper prices to newer heights but not brought any cheer to the farming community due to crop shortage.