Jan 26, 2018

Sri Lanka accelerates export clearance in black pepper

A breakthrough in the Ceylon Black Pepper gridlock came on 25 January as Sri Lanka suddenly abolished its long practiced, slow export clearance timeline on its reputed King of Spices - along with an announcement that the Commerce Minister himself is planning to visit New Delhi to resolve incompatibilities on the reception of Ceylon Black Pepper in the Indian marketplace.

“This pilot initiative is to strengthen the reputation of Ceylon Black Pepper as well as to support spice exporters” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo. Minister Bathiudeen, joined by his top officials, was meeting members of Spices and Allied Products Producers’ and Traders’ Association (SAPPTA) of Sri Lanka who presented the latest situation to him on their black pepper sourcing and exports. Member firms of SAPPTA handle exports of no less than 30 spice product-lines.

In 2016, Sri Lanka’s spice exports totalled $ 264 Mn, and black pepper exports were at $ 72 Mn (declining from 2015’s $ 144 Mn). International demand for Lankan pepper cannot be satisfied easily and as a result domestic production has also increased with the support of the government. The total production of 17000 MT black pepper in Sri Lanka in 2012 surged to 18660 MT in 2014 and has peaked to a huge 25995 MT by last year (2017). Annual local household consumption ranges from 5800 MT to 6000 MT and in 2016, the industrial consumption was at 5312 MT. In 2012, for the first time Ceylon pepper overtook Ceylon cloves to become the second largest spice export of Sri Lanka –the leading spice export being Ceylon Cinnamon.

SAPPTA members voiced that the black pepper flowing in the direction of Sri Lanka from other foreign sources have greatly impacted the reputation of Ceylon Black Pepper “We call for your immediate attention on foreign peppers being mixed to Sri Lankan peppers, which is of higher quality” said Chairman of SAPPTA Vernon Abeyratne, and added: “Pepper exports of some Lankan companies such as my firm are of EU Standards.

Around 60% of annual Lankan black pepper exports are headed to India -the rest to other destinations such as EU and USA. Last year an estimated 8700 MT of Ceylon Black Pepper was exported to India (under SAFTA).