Kochi: While Spice exports from India have risen by 25% in volume and 36% in value in the first quarter of 2007-08 on the back of higher shipments of pepper and chillies, industry experts say the momentum may be difficult to sustain.
“The appreciation of the rupee will impact our competitive edge and may lead to a drop in the export of spices and spice products in the coming months,” says VJ Kurian, chairman, Spices Board.
During the first quarter of 2007-08, around 1.11 lakh tonnes of spices were exported at a value of $234.53 million (Rs967.3 crore). The numbers have helped the board attain 29% of the volume target of 3.8 lakh tonnes for the current fiscal and 27% of the value target of $875 million (Rs3,600 crore).
While exports of pepper, cardamom (large), chilli, coriander, fennel, fenugreek and nutmeg have risen significantly both in volume and value, mint products showed a marginal decline in export volumes although there was a significant improvement in export value. Performance of cardamom (small) ginger, cumin, celery, garlic and vanilla fell short of last year’s performance.
The increase in the price of pepper from Rs82 a kg to Rs132 saw 7,000 tonne of pepper export fetch Rs97.26 crore, a 137% jump compared to the corresponding period of last year. Indian pepper became more competitive in the international market in May and June. Given the tight global supply situation, the present trend in pepper export may continue for some time, Kurian says.
Chilli exports more than doubled in volume to 52,000 tonnes against 23,715 tonmes last year. In terms of export value, they fetched the Indian exporter Rs288.50 crore in the first quarter of the current fiscal, against Rs 104.76 crore in the corresponding period last year.
India is expected to dominate the global chilli market for a while, given that demand from traditional buyers such as Malaysia and Sri Lanka has been growing. While the new Chinese crop is likely to reach the market by October, another producer, Pakistan, is expected to internally consume a large part of its crop, leaving substantially lower volumes for the global market.
Among seed spices, coriander, fennel and fenugreek performed better than last year. Drought in East European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria helped Indian coriander exports. There was a decline in cumin seed exports from 8,190 tonnes to 4,000 tonne, but the scenario is expected to improve following reports of crop damage in Syria.
On the import front, there was a decline in sensitive spices like pepper, cardamom (small) and turmeric. The government stipulation that any import of spices for re-export after value addition would have to be done in 120 days from the date of first import consignment being cleared by customs has helped put a check on imports. Import of other spices like clove and cassia, mainly to meet domestic demand, has remained unchanged.