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Pepper prices turn hot

Special Correspondent
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The Hindu

Helped by continuing squeeze in supplies, price of garbled pepper breached the Rs. 500-a-kg mark in Kochi on Monday even as frantic buyers were reportedly turning primary markets in places like Kothamangalam, Adimali and Kattappana into terminal markets. Ungarbled pepper closed at Rs. 487 a kg at the spot market here on Monday.

The price of the produce has been on the boil since early this year and an extended spell of the rains has hit the new season production hard, said a trader in Kochi. And, industry sources said that pepper production in the upcoming season, starting December, may be lower than the predicted 35,000 to 40,000 tonnes.

Only Indian pepper is currently available in the market right now and that is the reason why prices are spiralling, said a trader in Kochi after the markets closed as he pointed out that pepper crops in Indonesia, Vietnam and Malayasia are poor compared to those in previous years.

Reports by the International Pepper Community, which is in session now in Sarawak, Malayasia, had said earlier this year that pepper production in Indonesia, particularly in Lampung, during 2013 was expected to be 25 to 30 per cent lower than in the previous year.

The country is estimated to have produced 75,000 tonnes during 2012.

The IPC report had said that India produced 43,000 tonnes of pepper during 2012, the lowest quantity for a whole decade.

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