61% spice export goal already met

61% spice export goal already met

Kochi: Despite a global slowdown, India is set to meet its target of exporting Rs4,350 crore worth of spices in the fiscal year up to March 2009, a top official said.

Shipments in the first half of the fiscal year have accounted for 61% of the annual target, said V.J. Kurien, chairman of government trade promotion body Spices Board of India.

Also See On Course (Graphic)

While consumption may fall due to the international financial crisis, the decline will be marginal, Kurien said, a view exporters agree with.

Philip Kuruvilla, chairman of industry lobby group All-India Spice Exporters Forum (Aisef) said that some reductions in inventory were likely due to bank restrictions on credit in the aftermath of the liquidity crisis that has engulfed financial markets in recent times.

Sushma Srikandath, director and chief operating officer of export firm AVT McCormick and a former Aisef president, said given the growing trend of cooking at home due to the financial crunch, spices, condiments and extracts used for easy cooking will continue to be in demand.

Lower freight costs due to falling crude oil prices and a depreciating rupee will also benefit exporters, she said.

Kurien said between April and September, exports of spices went up 8% by volume, 14% in rupee terms and 9% in dollar value.

India exported 253,550 tonnes of spices worth Rs2,660.75 crore ($624.15 million) against 233,825 tonnes valued at Rs2,329.51 crore during the same period last year.

With the exception of pepper and mint products, which declined both in quantity and value, all other spices registered gains. Pepper exports so far has been 12,750 tonnes worth Rs215.70 crore, down from 19,165 tonnes valued at Rs279.15 crore for the same period last year. The average export price went up to Rs169.18 a kg from Rs145.66 a kg in 2007.

The export of 9,550 tonnes of mint products earned Rs659.94 crore compared with 11,600 tonnes worth Rs724.91 crore last year, despite the average price going up to Rs691.03 a kg against Rs624.95 last year.

Chilli exports were up marginally to 109,000 tonnes worth Rs581.18 crore, against 108,760 tonnes valued at Rs590.37 crore last year. Besides traditional buyers such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, Pakistan was also active in the market early in the year.

Coriander exports went up to 15,500 tonnes worth Rs105.25 crore against 13,240 tonnes valued at Rs50.99 crore, and cumin seeds, riding on crop failures in Syria, Turkey and Iran, saw exports go up to 23,500 tonnes worth Rs241.73 crore, from 11,920 tonnes worth Rs125.33 crore in the year-ago period.

The export of value-added products such as curry powder and spice oils saw a substantial increase. A total 7,250 tonnes of curry powder worth Rs81.90 crore was shipped compared with 5,530 tonnes valued Rs53.28 crore for the same period last year.

Spice oils export was up to 4,075 tonnes worth Rs403.47 crore against 3,235 tonnes valued at Rs272.30 crore last year.

While other seeds such as mustard, poppy and vanilla crossed targets both in quantity and value, coriander and fenugreek surpassed targets only in value terms.

Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint