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Spices exports fall on higher prices, recession

George Joseph  |  Kochi 

Spices exports from India suffered in the second half of the present financial year due to recessionary conditions in importing countries and higher prices. According to sources, the impact will be more severe in the coming months, especially in the first half of 2009-10.

Black pepper prices were quoted higher by $100 on an average, while coriander was up nearly 65 per cent compared to the previous year.

In rupee terms, exports have met the target fixed by the Spices Board, while the quantum of exports have fallen. In dollar terms, the value has seen a steady decline during the second half of 2008-09. There had been an overall loss of 5 per cent in the dollar terms during September-February period against 8 per cent growth in April-September.

This has been attributed to the crisis that had gripped Europe and USA. Year to date (April-February) growth has been just 2 per cent.

A poor show during April - February period of the present financial year as the quantitative growth is confined to just 2 per cent. There had been a decline in this export segment throughout the present year though there has been a 16 per cent growth in Rupee value of the items.

A 12 per cent growth was recorded in volume during April - August period, but then there had been a gradual decline and during the April - September period, an 8 per cent increase was recorded. This was 7 per cent during the April - October period and again dropped to 3 per cent during April - December period of 2008-09.

The present global turmoil has badly affected the Indian spices export sector especially to Europe and USA. Traditional importers of Indian spices like Canada have considerably reduced their offtake, while there had been an improvement in exports to non-traditional countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan. The much higher prices of Indian items is also a major reason for the setback in quantitative terms.

The country shipped 395,775 tonne valued at Rs 4,590.50 crore in April - February period against 386,875 tonne valued Rs 3,950 crore. In Rupee terms the export is an all-time high, according to the latest export review by the

It is noteworthy that 105.5 per cent of the target set by the board had been achieved in value terms, while the volume wise achievement was 93.1 per cent. The board had set a target to export 425,000 tonnes of spices valued around Rs 4,350 crore in 2008-09.

The board is optimistic of achieving the volume target also by the end of the fiscal year. Spice oils and oleoresins including mint products contributed 43 per cent of the total export earnings. Chilli contributed 21 per cent followed by pepper 8 per cent, cumin 7 per cent and turmeric 5 per cent.

Exports of most spices have shown a rising trend both in terms of quantity and value compared to the same period of previous fiscal. However, the export of pepper has declined in both volume and value terms while chilli, ginger and mint products had a poor show in quantitatively.

Pepper export from India suffered the most severe set back due to the recession as the offtake by Europe and USA had dipped. India’s higher price tag compared to Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil was a major hurdle to cross over the recessionary pressure.

The Indian price tag of grade pepper was higher by $100 per tonne on an average compared to that of Vietnam, world’s largest producer of black pepper. The export was 23,350 tonne valued Rs 384.10 crore against 31,760 tonne valued Rs 466.26 crore during April - February period of 2007-08. The average export price of pepper had risen from Rs 146.81 per kg in 2007-08 to Rs 164.49 crore in 2008-09.

During the review period, India exported 166,000 tonnes of chilli and chilli products valued at Rs 947.35 crore against 176,255 tonne valued Rs 940.12 crore. Traditional buyers of Indian chilli like Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka are active in the market. However, exports to Bangladesh had a setback in the April - February period.

Export of coriander seed had shown fine performance in value terms as Rs 162.79 crore had been accumulated by shipping 23,600 tonne. 66 per cent increase had been recorded in value terms though there had been a decline of 0.5 per cent in quantity. This is mainly due to a steep rise in unit value of coriander in 2008-09. The unit value of export had gone up from Rs 41.33 per kg in 2007-08 to Rs 68.98 per kg, nearly 65 per cent up.

First Published: Thu, March 26 2009. 00:18 IST