Intermittent rain in Kerala has impacted pepper arrivals at the terminal market and on average, the offered quantities were around 20 tonnes.

According to traders, rains have hit the transport of pepper from production centres in Idukki and Wayanad because of travel restrictions imposed on movement of vehicles at night. Moreover, the moisture content is on the higher side at 13.5 per cent from the permissible 12 to 12.5 per cent as farmers are keeping pepper on the floor. This has affected industry demand, forcing many units to depend on imported pepper, traders pointed out.

Kishore Shamji, a pepper trader in Kochi, said with Sri Lankan and Vietnam produce available at ₹500 (MIP) minimum import price in many upper India markets, many companies have opted for the imported variety as against the domestically produced ungarbled variety priced in the Rs 495-500 range. With GST, freight charge and agent commission the price of domestically produced pepper stood at ₹510-515.

He said the harvest season in Sri Lanka and the depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar have prompted traders to push huge quantities to India. Likewise, the availability of Vietnam pepper under wrong declaration is also posing a threat to domestic traders.

However, the exact quantity of these imported commodities is yet to be compiled, he added.

He said the market is pinning its hopes on the ensuing festival season for a revival as many upcountry markets are slow and have been witnessing subdued demand for a long time. The arrival of Ganesh Chaturthi, Jain festivals, followed by Navarathri are expected to revive the market, he added.