CONFISCATED PEPPER EXPORT STOCK GOES FOR RESAMPLING

 Business Standard

George Joseph |  Kochi  April 25, 2013 Last Updated at 22:20 IST

Confiscated pepper export stock goes for resampling

To sell it, Indian exporters would have to match the lower prices offered by Vietnamese exporters

There is a chance of boosting Indian pepper export in May and June, if a resampling of a confiscated 6,800 tonnes passes a test and if stockists are willing to match the lower price of global shipments.

The stock in question was confiscated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India; it has given the permission for resampling, with four testing companies assigned the job. The other issue is the gap between the price of ASTA-grade pepper in India and that in Vietnam; the latter is $150 a tonne cheaper, at present. Domestic prices have been falling, but there is still a gap.

Vietnam is the world's largest producer and exporter. In January-March this year, they exported 39,000 tonnes; India exported 5,000 tonnes. Over 2012-13, Vietnam's export was estimated at 95,000-105,000 tonnes, compared to India's 15,000 tonnes. The Spices Board had aimed at 20,000 tonnes for the year, but leading exporters told Business Standard this was unlikely, even when the figure for Indian export included re-export from some other countries.

By April-end, half of Vietnam's production would have been exported, and they would not be in a hurry to senll more, with the next harvesting season set to begin after eight more months. The crop from Indonesia, another leading exporter, is likely to enter the market only by July. So, India will have an edge in the global market for those eight to 10 weeks, said a leading exporter here.

India was leading the global pepper mart till 1990, topping the table of exports for years together. Today, in the export table, India is in the fourth spot, after Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil.

According to the Vietnam Pepper Association, its exports in volume rose by 23.5 per cent and in value by 20 per cent (to $254 million) in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year. Vietnam's stock is at present 55,000-60,000 tonnes, with harvesting almost ends by April and  will be fully over by the middle of next month. In India, harvesting is over, except in some parts of Karnataka.

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