Unseasonal rains down south make pepper prices too hot to handle

A poor crop, coupled with rising demand, could leave spice-lovers with a bitter taste in their mouths, as heavy rain has damaged the pepper crop, leading to skyrocketing prices.

The price ain’t right: The price of black pepper at APMC market in Vashi jumped by 20 to 25 per cent last week as heavy rains in the southern states and supply crunch combined to push up the cost. File pic

In the past four days — starting from November 21 — the price of pepper has jumped nearly 20 to 25 per cent due to a supply crunch after heavy rain damaged the crop in the southern states of the country.

After crossing the Rs 500 per kg mark, black pepper looks to touch Rs 550 per kg, and spice traders feel that it could reach Rs 600 per kg, considering that next harvest season is over a month away.

“There has been an increase of 20 to 25 per cent in the price of spices. Other spices such as cloves, bay leaves, garlic, black cardamom, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric are also seeing a similar rise in prices.

Normally, we get some quantity of pepper from Kerala during October and November. But that has not come in, as heavy rains have affected the flowering of the vines, leading to a shortage and subsequent rise in prices,” said the chief official of APMC spice market.

Traders at APMC market said that most of the spices are brought into the state from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and at times Madhya Pradesh. With prices at an unprecedented high, the exports too have suffered.

“With the onset of winter, consumption of spicy food increases and even though there is a surge in prices, we will purchase stock,” said Baburao Jeswal, vendor at APMC market.

The rise, however, has also not deterred consumers from still puchasing it. ¬†Puspaben Rathod, a housewife who was visiting the market, said, “Our family is fond of eating spicy food, so it does not even matter to us if prices go high.” ¬†

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