Prices of nutmeg and mace have soared to all-time high due to serious shortfall in production in the current season. The prices have almost doubled than that in the same period in 2009 and the best quality yellow flower is now fetching Rs 1,100 a kg. This was Rs 500 on May 12 last year.
Due to an erratic climatic conditions in the planted areas, production is at its lowest and according to growers total production may fall 50-60 per cent. The average annual production of nutmeg is around 2,500 tonnes and is mainly produced in Kerala.
Price of shelled nutmeg is now in a range of Rs 180 -200 which was Rs 120-135 year ago. Nutmeg without shell now attracts a price of Rs 360-380 a kg. Price of best quality mace increased to Rs 800 a kg from Rs 400 a year back. Within a couple of weeks prices of nutmeg and mace increased by Rs 80-100 a kg signifying the production loss this season.
Local traders said the supply to terminal markets was too low as they were not in a position to supply to the north Indian buyers who are showing much interest in stocking the spice in a daily appreciating market. Exporters have reduced their volume of purchase as it would not be viable to compete with the suppliers from Indonesia and Sri Lanka where the spice is much cheaper. The traders here expect a change in the prices only by the start of the monsoon as the supply is likely to increase due to harvesting of fresh nutmeg at that time.
The production season is till August.
A section of the growers are not keen on releasing the stock as the prices are appreciating on a daily basis. This is the best time for the nutmeg growers as the trees do not require much nursing and production cost is rather nil when the trees are grown.