Black Peppercorn Guide

Whole Black Peppercorn

Production Supply Chain

What are some of the processing types for black peppercorn?

For black pepper, the processing is mainly manual with some degree of automation. Processing is referred to as the following process after harvesting raw pepper berries

Steps involved:

  • Primary Processing
    • Reception: The reception consists of unloading the pepper and subsequently weighting
    • Cleaning and Grading: The cleaning and selection of the pepper grains concomitantly occur in the same equipment. The cleaning consists of removing wood chips, leaves, rotten fruits, and other impurities that might prejudice the quality of the product
      • Blanching process: Mature pepper berries are dipped in boiling water which helps in removing extraneous impurities from the berries
      • Sun Drying: Spread out on mats or plastics under bright sunlight for 2 days, to remove moisture content. Generally, 70% of the moisture is removed. Drying can also be carried out by solar dryers, mechanical dryers. The drying process gives berries black color
    • Threshing: Carried out either manually or mechanically by equipment or in a combination of both. In manual threshing, berries are trampled by legs and by spikes. Meanwhile, in mechanical threshing, berries are put into a grinder container and crushed, operated by an electric motor
  • Secondary Processing
    • Processing: The raw material of harvested ripened berries will be transformed into dehydrated fingers or Curcuma powder.
    • Packaging: The black pepper (in whole or ground) to be packed into polypropylene packaging (bags or flasks) or glass. All packaging must be hermetically sealed.
    • Storage: The dehydrated pepper must be stored in fresh places that are protected from light and moisture. 

Seasonality of Main Producing Regions

What are the different grades of black peppercorn?

  • Indian black pepper:
    • Tellicherry Garbled grades: One of the highest-quality Black Pepper in the World, has a biting heat but a distinctively fresh and pungent aroma.
      • TGSEB (Tellicherry Garbled Special Extra Bold)
      1. Size (mm) 4.75
      2. Moisture content 11%
      • TGEB (Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold)
      1. Size (mm) 4.25
      2. Moisture content 11%
      • TG (Tellicherry Garbled)
      1. Size (mm) 4.00
      2. Moisture content 11%
    • Malabar Black Pepper grades: The berries have a slightly greenish hue. This is also a high-quality pepper with a pungent aroma and robust flavor
      • MG-1 – Malabar Garbled 1
      • MG-2 – Malabar Garbled 2
      1. Moisture - 11%
      • MUG-1 – Malabar Ungarbled 1
      1. Light Berries 2%
      2. Moisture content 11%
      • MUG-2 – Malabar Ungarbled 2
      1. Light Berries 10%
      2. Moisture content 12%
      • MUG-3L – Malabar Ungarbled 3L
      1. Light Berries 15%
      2. Moisture content 12%
      • MUG-4L – Malabar Ungarbled 4L
      1. Light Berries 20%
      2. Moisture content 12%
    • Light Berries Black Pepper grades
      • GL-Special – Garbled Light Special
        • GL-1 – Garbled Light 1
        1. Light Berries 5%
        2. Moisture content 5%
        • GL-2 – Garbled Light 2
        1. Light Berries 10%
        2. Moisture content 10%
        • GL-3 – Garbled Light 3
        1. Light Berries 15%
        2. Moisture content 15%
      • UGL-Special – Ungarbled Light Special
        • UGL-1 – Ungarbled Light 1
        1. Light Berries 5%
        • UGL-2L – Ungarbled Light 2L
        1. Light Berries 10%
  • Vietnam Black Pepper:
    • BOLD Quality 5mm - 580 G/L
    1. Density G/L - 580 G/L
    2. 5 mm on Screen 80% min
    3. Moisture 12.5%
    • ASTA Quality - 570 G/L
    1. Density G/L - 570 G/L
    2. Moisture 12.5%
    • BB1 Quality - 550 G/L
    1. Density G/L - 550 G/L
    2. Moisture 13% max
    • BB2 Quality - 500 G/L
    1. Density G/L - 500 G/L
    2. Moisture 13% max
    • FAQ Quality – 500 G/L
    1. Density G/L - 500 G/L
    2. Moisture 13.5% max
  • Brazil Black Pepper grades:
    • ASTA – 560 G/L
    1. Density G/L- 560 G/L
    2. Moisture 14%
    • B1 – 540 G/L
    1. Density G/L - 540 G/L
    2. Moisture 14%
    • B2 – 500 G/L
    1. Density G/L 500 G/L
    2. Moisture 14%

When is the harvesting season of black peppercorn?

Black peppercorn essentially harvests depending on regionality, but the usual high season of black peppercorn for countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brazil is from July to September. Meanwhile, for other countries such as India, black peppercorn is mostly harvested around November until March. As for Sri Lanka, the harvesting season is mostly around April until July, then it will continue again in December until January. While Vietnam was the first leading exporter of black peppercorn in 2019, experiencing the high season from January to May.

What are some common varieties of black peppercorn?

  • Indian Black Pepper

          1. Tellicherry Black Pepper

               - Big round size

               - Pungent aroma

               - Grown in Malabar coast in Kerala state

          2. Malabar Black Pepper

               - Smaller than Tellicherry

               - Less pungent aroma

               - Greenish hue in color appearance

Tellicherry and Malabar peppers come from the same vine trees and production areas. Tellicherry is larger and has a fuller flavor and pungent aroma as it is kept on the vine longer than Malabar pepper

          3. Light Berries Black Pepper

               - Small in size

               - Light black or brown color

               - Grown in southern India and Andaman and Nicobar islands

  • Vietnam Black Pepper

        Most common varieties:

          1. Lada Belantoeng

          2. An Do

          3. Vinh Linh

          4. Loc Ninh

Pepper harvesting is concentrated primarily in 6 provinces - Binh Phuoc with, Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Ba Ria-Vung, Dong Nai, and Gia Lai. The provinces in the Central Highlands and the Southeastern regions are the largest in terms of area and productivity. There are also other pepper-growing areas in Phu Quoc and Kien Giang and Quang Tri.

  • Brazil Black Pepper

Brazilian black pepper is considered to be amongst the high-quality black peppers along with India and Vietnam is grown mainly in 2 regions; Para in the Amazonia region and Espirito Santo. The variety is called Belem.

Trade Overview

Who are the current top exporters of black peppercorn in the global market?

Vietnam, Brazil, and Indonesia were the top exporters of black peppercorn in 2019 among others. Vietnam had an export value of USD 580.19M with an export quantity around 237.27K MT, followed by Brazil with an export value of USD 183.06M and export quantity around 85.41K MT, and for the third spot as a leading exporter, Indonesia had an export value of USD 142.74M and quantity around 220.52 MT.

Sri Lanka and India were the top four and five exporters. With Sri Lanka’s export value of USD 47.08M and export quantity around 7.39K MT, followed by India with an export value of USD 41.47M and quantity around 8.61K MT. 

Who are the current top importers of black peppercorn in the global market?

The United States, China, and Germany were the top importers of black peppercorns in 2019 among others. The United States’s import value of USD 188.96M with import quantity around 64.18K MT, followed by China with an import value of USD 154.10M and import quantity around 57.62K MT, and for the third spot as a leading importer, it was Germany with an import value of USD 103.05M and quantity around 32.41K MT

India and Vietnam were the top four and five importers. With India’s import value of USD 101.11M and import quantity around 32.10K MT, followed by Vietnam’s import value of USD 65.93M and quantity around 18.30K MT. 


What are some of the best packaging methods of black peppercorn in India?

  • Gunny bags (polypropylene bags)

The bags should be completely dry and kept in places free of insects and moisture

  • Glass packing

All packaging must be hermetically sealed to avoid loss in the mass or modifications in the moisture content. The vacuum packaging improves the conservation of the quality of the dehydrated pepper.

Quality Control/Certification

What factors determine the quality of black peppercorn?

  • Drying black pepper on a hygienic surface is important to ensure the quality of black pepper. Utilization of bamboo mats/polythene sheets and working in concrete yards instead of moisture attracting earthen surfaces is essential
  • Doors, windows, and ventilators of warehouses/storage rooms in which pepper is kept should always be kept closed. No cracks should be left unattended, as rats and other pests are capable of getting into storerooms even through the smallest openings.
  • Basic factors:
  1. Color - Brownish to dark brownish, blackish color
  2. Sensory property - The flavor shall have a penetrating odor and hot, biting pungent taste characteristics of black pepper excluding moldy and rancid odors
  • Physical factors:
  1. General size range - Diameter 2.5 – 7.0 mm
  2. Tellicherry Garbled - 4 mm
  3. Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold - 4.25 mm
  4. Tellicherry Special Extra Bold - 4.75 mm
  5. Shape - Whole with globular shape and wrinkled pericarp
  6. Bulk density (G/L), min. - 400 to 550
  • Chemical factors:
  1. Moisture content - 12% to 13%
  2. Ash content - 6% to 7%
  3. Volatile oils - 1% to 2%

What are some factors to consider when producing black peppercorn?

  • Temperature and humidity: Pepper plants can withstand the lowest temperature of 10 degrees, the highest 40 degrees, develop well at an air temperature of 20-32 degrees, relative humidity over 70%, and soil temperature. At a depth of 30 cm about 25-28 degrees.
  • Rainfall: Pepper trees need high rainfall, evenly distributed in the rainy season but must have a clear dry season, the total annual rainfall is suitable for pepper in the range of 1,500-2,500 mm.
  • Light and wind: Pepper trees love the scattered light and like the calm environment.
  • Altitude: Pepper trees can be planted to a height of 1,200 m above sea level, but grow well on high land in the plains, altitudes below 600 m.
  • Soil: Pepper plants grow well on fertile soil, rich in organic, porous, well-drained; Lowest soil pH 4.5; best in the range of 5.5-6.5; cultivated soil layer above 70 cm, best over 1 m; land with a slope of less than 10%, preferably 3-5%; The water table is more than 2 meters deep in the rainy season.

General Product Introduction

What drives the price of black peppercorn?

  • Harvesting volume
  • Weather disturbances leading to low harvesting
  • Overproduction or under production
  • Crop diseases and pest-related disturbances
  • Processing cost and equipment cost
  • Demand in major destination countries and supply volume
  • Internal transportation cost and international ocean freight/air freight cost
  • Yield from competitor countries and price offered
  • Trade policies and agreements
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