The price of black pepper at about $9 a kilogram – it was $2 a decade ago. White pepper, on the other hand, costs as much as $13, a threefold gain. This is as per the International Pepper Community (IPC) which is a producer group in Jakarta.
The profits are rolling in because consumption has exceeded supply for about eight years and the increase has been boosted by the growing demand for seasoning as Asia eats more meat – this is the opinion of Greg Estep, the global head of spices and vegetable ingredients at Singapore-based Olam International.
Obviously, Vietnam is prospering when commodity producers have to accept a slump in prices from crude oil to iron ore to soybeans.
The surge in the $2.5 billion pepper export market contrasts with a fourth consecutive year of declining commodity prices as supply gluts emerge. Vietnam's crop expanded 15-fold over two decades, displacing India as the biggest supplier, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says.
As far as statistics of the IPC goes, Vietnam harvested 122,000 tons last year, while Indonesia produced 63,000 tons and India 58,000 tons, according to IPC data.
Incidentally, pepper is cultivated on vines, which grow best in tropical climates from 460 meters above sea level. Vietnam's harvest runs from February to April. As per FAO, pepper and ginger are the oldest traded spices and, while the first exports were recorded 4,000 years ago, trade took off from the 1400s subsequent to Europeans pioneering maritime trading links with Asia.