Fri, 02 May 2003

RI's Q1 pepper exports up

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's pepper exports in the first quarter of this year increased by 44 percent to 10,177 tons from 7,054 tons in the same period last year, the International Pepper Community (IPC) reported.

Indonesia exports pepper to Europe and the U.S.

IPC said in a statement issued on Thursday that the higher export volume followed a sharp increase in the export of black pepper to 1,504 tons in March, from 443 tons in the same month last year.

The export of white pepper, meanwhile, showed a decline from 1,897 tons in March 2002 to 1,630 tons in the same period this year.

Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of white pepper, and accounts for between 70 percent to 80 percent of the world's supply.

However, the most popular type of pepper in the world is black pepper, which accounts for 80 percent of the world's total market. White pepper accounts for only 20 percent of the market.

Other major pepper producing countries are Brazil, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

IPC also reported that exports from major pepper producing countries had been on a declining trend during the past three years.

It said that in the first quarter of this year, exports from major producers suffered a 13 percent decline to around 36,602 tons.

"The decrease is mainly due to a significant fall in exports from Vietnam, India and Brazil," the IPC said.

Earlier, the Association of Indonesian Pepper Exporters (AIPE) predicted that the country's pepper export would decline to about 40,000 tons this year from last year's target of about 45,000 tons, as output was projected to fall because of droughts.

Pepper farmers were now trying to shift their fields to other commodities, as the prices of white and black pepper had been declining for the past several years.

The price of white pepper, for instance, is now worth only about Rp 22,000 (US$2.40) per kilogram, compared to about Rp 80,000 in 1998.

Many blame the decline in price on the move by European traders, who released massive stock onto the market during harvest season in Indonesia.