Exporting pepper to Europe

Although pepper production has increased and prices have slightly decreased, a sense of scarcity continues in the pepper industry. European companies are constantly looking for suppliers that can offer sustainable supplies of good-quality pepper and that comply with food safety requirements. It is even better if your pepper can be traced back to the source. Opportunities are also growing for crushed pepper.

1 . Product description

Peppercorns are the berries of the plant Piper nigrum. On the European market, pepper is sold as dried whole or ground/crushed berries.

The most commonly sold pepper on the European market is:

  • Black pepper – dried, ripe berries
  • White pepper – dried berry seeds (skin of berries is removed)

Other types of pepper on the European market are green and pink peppercorns. These types can be sold mixed with black and white pepper. Green pepper is sold as a delicacy, preserved in brine (solution of salt in water) or vinegar.

Pepper is traded under two different Harmonised System (HS) codes. These codes cover whole pepper (HS 0904.1100) and crushed or ground pepper (HS 0904.1200).

2 . What makes Europe an interesting market for pepper?

European consumption of pepper is growing

In 2016, the global consumption of pepper amounted to 430,000 tonnes. The consumption in Europe is growing steadily by around 2% annually. See the section below for more information on interesting European markets.

Worldwide prices are high

The global market for pepper is witnessing an unprecedented cycle of rising prices. In 2006, at the beginning of the current cycle, black pepper was traded at below US$ 2,000 per ton, while this price had increased to around US$ 10,000 per tonne in 2016.

This price development is explained by a growth in consumption (with production failing to keep up). Consumption is growing especially rapidly in emerging Asian countries such as India and China. Globally, the stock levels are low. Moreover, the available supplies of pepper that comply with European food safety requirements are limited. This fact is largely the result of growing problems with the use of pesticides in pepper, especially in pepper from Vietnam. Pepper that does comply with the requirements for maximum residues of pesticides may attract a price premium.

Growing supply scarcity offers opportunities

The growing supply scarcity leads to opportunities on the European market, as buyers find it increasingly difficult to secure sufficient supplies.

Despite the rise in global pepper prices, the European market continues to grow slowly. This fact is because pepper is an essential ingredient and its price only accounts for a small share of the total cost of the food in which it is used.

Data on European imports show that imports value have grown by 2% annually from 2012 to 2016, while import volumes have been stable. In 2016, 60% of the imports originated in developing countries. Please note that Figure 1 below excludes imports from countries other than European or developing countries. In 2016, these other countries only accounted for 3% of the total European imports.

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