The black pepper is poised for a dramatic comeback in the 2023-24 season. The pepper community, a blend of seasoned farmers and shrewd traders, anticipates a peppery encore, with estimations pointing to a robust 70,000-tonne production. This forecast hinges on the favorable weather signifying a harmonious crop setting, particularly in the spice heartland of Karnataka and the emergence of new pepper havens in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Experts lend credence to this spicy narrative, revealing that the pepper community, a diverse ensemble of farmers and dealers, projects a production surge, with the inclusion of new cultivation areas in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, and the spice-rich expanses of Namakkal, Gudalur, Yercaud, Kodaikanal, and Kolli Hills in Tamil Nadu. Fueled by aggressive pepper planting, these regions add zest to the production spectacle. The Spices Board’s provisional data serves as a backdrop, painting a contrasting picture of the past season. In 2022-23, pepper production waltzed at 64,000 tonnes, a dip from the preceding year’s grand performance of 70,000 tonnes. The upcoming season promises a positive outcome.
A spicy prelude
Karnataka, the most prominent spice maestro, takes center stage in the pepper landscape. In districts like Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru, the crop setting dons a promising attire, with expectations soaring by 25-30 percent. Despite the optimistic tune, the auction prices for garbled pepper experience a nuanced dance. However, a subtle ease is detected, with farm gate prices reclining 8-10 percent, courtesy of insights from the former chairman of Karnataka Planters Association. The 20 percent surge in Karnataka’s pepper output during 2022-23 to 36,000 tonnes marks a spicy prelude to the anticipated spectacle.
Moreover, a correction sets in, heralded by the impact of rising pepper imports. The festival fervor in the upcountry markets subsides, tempering the prices to $7,14 or €6,54 per kg for ungarbled varieties. This correction attributed a drop in the past month to imports from Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The imported pepper, available at $6,90 or €6,32 exerts pricing pressure on the domestic counterpart, arriving at $7,51 or €6,87 with transportation costs and GST.
The spice fable is interwoven with climatic nuances, with climate change influencing domestic production. Reports also allude to the presence of Vietnam’s bolder berries in the domestic market, further shaping the pricing dynamics. Market Veterans highlight India’s position as the third-largest importer of pepper from Vietnam, trailing behind the US and China. In this spice journey, where every peppercorn holds a story, the market navigates through a flavorful resurgence, propelled by the anticipation of a thriving 2023-24 season.