Pepper is the unripe berry of the plant Piper Nigrum, which are collected and sun-dried. Pepper or peppercorns are of different varieties, which vary in flavour are used for various spices. The different types of pepper are black pepper, green pepper, white pepper, red pepper and pink pepper. Black pepper is the most common variety and has a strong and pungent flavour. Among the various spices in use today, pepper is the oldest one known to man. Pepper is known as the “king of spices” or “black gold”. Its innumerable uses make pepper the most essential spice in the world to be traded internationally. One-third of the net volume of spices traded around the world is pepper. According to MCX, the pepper price today is INR 32,665/100 kgs.
Cultivation and Uses
India has always been an agricultural country, and pepper was one of the first crops to be cultivated here. It is also one of the primary commodities of trade and commerce in India since prehistoric times.
In ancient times, pepper was considered a valuable commodity and was used as a mode of payment. In England, people used to pay rent using pepper, and it was also a mode of tax payment. Pepper was widely used by the Romans , who considered it indispensable to fine cooking. Till the 18th century, the pepper trade was dominated by the Portuguese, since they had discovered the sea route to India.
Throughout history, pepper has been used as an antidote to various ailments like fever, stomach aches and digestive problems. The Chinese have used it as a cure for malaria and cholera. Monks consumed pepper as a way to boost endurance during challenging treks. Pepper kick starts sweat and helps the body to cool down.
The consumption of pepper has increased steadily over the years. The change in food habits and the increasing preference for food that is flavoursome and healthy has contributed to the increase in pepper consumption. In India, pepper is used primarily for cooking, in the pharmaceutical industry and as a preservative.
Pepper is grown primarily in the southern region of India at present. Kerala and Karnataka contribute almost 96% of the pepper produced. Commercially, pepper is cultivated in Southeast Asia, Brazil and Madagascar. India adds to a chunk of the world’s pepper production.
India imports vast amounts of pepper from Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Vietnam and sometimes from Brazil. Most of the pepper is usually just exported again to various regions as whole black pepper. A smaller portion of the imported pepper is used in the manufacture of other products.
Various factors influence the pepper price today. They are the domestic rates, the rate of world production and exports, the trading prices in the international market. The demand levels both locally as well as internationally, and the due date of the new harvest in the market influence the pepper rate today. As is true for any crop commodity, weather conditions play a vital role in the pepper prices. Importers, traders, exporters, wholesalers, processors, and retailers are the ones who are most exposed to the impact of price fluctuations due to domestic and international reasons. These participants make use of the trading platforms of MCX Pepper futures to guarantee efficient price discovery and hedging against price risks.