Spices ride on quality; exports set to cross FY08 target of $850mn

Spices ride on quality; exports set to cross FY08 target of $850mn

Kochi: India may exceed the target set for spice exports in 2007-08 in value terms, says V.J. Kurian, chairman of the government trade promotion body Spices Board.

In the first five months of fiscal 2008, between April and August, India already has reached nearly 50% of the $850 million (Rs3,383 crore) target set for spice exports for the fiscal. Exports during April-August reached $421.16 million, compared with $280.71 million in the year-ago period.

“Given the trend in the first five months, spice exports may surpass the target," says Kurian. Exports of chilli have already achieved 72% of the target and that of other items, such as pepper, spice oils, mint products and some of the seed spices, including coriander, fennel and fenugreek, are on course to surpass targets, Kurian adds.

“The performance is indeed remarkable and could have been much better, but of the rupee appreciation," he says. “The quality of Indian spices and their expansive variety give India an edge over competition and blunt the impact of currency appreciation."

Volume-wise, during the first five months of the fiscal year, exports have clocked a 26% rise to 187,000 tonnes.

In terms of rupee value, the exports are up 34% and in dollar terms 50%. Spice oils and mint products contributed 40% of the export earnings, with chilli chipping in 28%, pepper 11%, and cumin 5%.

Chilli exports, buoyed by quality, as well as on reports of a lower crop in China, zoomed to 88,000 tonnes worth Rs487 crore—up from 47,249 tonnes worth Rs225.81 crore during the year-ago period. In volume, chilli exports have risen by 86% and in value, 116%. Prices of chilli were up from Rs55.34 a kg to Rs47.75.

Pepper shipments were 12,900 tonnes, valued Rs183.4 crore, compared with 9,853 tonnes worth Rs81.99 crore during the comparable period last year, representing a 31% increase in volume and 124% in value. Prices of pepper rose from Rs83.21 to Rs142.17 a kg.

Large cardamom exports too rose to 495 tonnes, valued Rs5.62 crore, against 294 tonnes valued at Rs3.37 crore during the first five months of last fiscal.

However, small cardamom exports story is a different one. Its exports dipped to 170 tonnes from 223 tonnes from last fiscal but an increase in price— from Rs273.09 per kg to Rs385.15—saw export earnings rise to Rs6.55 crore from Rs6.09 crore over the April-August year-on-year.

Among other spices, coriander seed exports were up— 10,650 tonnes, valued Rs39.93 crore; so was fenugreek at 6,350 tonnes worth Rs17.23 crore; curry powder exports rose to 4,600 tonnes worth Rs43.43 crore; and spice oils spiked to 2,790 tonnes valued at Rs231.11 crore. Spices, which showed decline in exports in the first five months of the fiscal year, include cumin, celery, garlic and vanilla.