Cardamom export this year is expected to see a fall of at least 50 per cent, due to lower production. About 2,000 tonnes is available for export and even if more stocks meant for local consumption is diverted, it will be around half of last year’s export of 4,650 tonnes (worth Rs 363 crore). Apart from lower output, pricing is an issue. The export price of the major competitor, Guatemala, is lower than India’s.
The Spices Board of India has fixed an export target of 4,000 tonnes for 2012-13, split between 3,000 tonnes of the small variety and 1,000 tonnes of the large one.
Last year, India produced a bumper crop of 21,000 tonnes. This year’s is expected at only 14,000 tonnes because of delayed rain and crop damage. With 2,000 tonnes of carryover stock, the availability will be around 16,000 tonnes. With a home consumption of 13,000-14,000 tonnes, the export surplus will be a little over 2,000 tonnes.
In the first four months of the current financial year, export was already down 50 per cent, at 485 tonnes as against 966 tonnes in the same period last year.
The main export destination for India is the North Africa and West Asia region, with Saudi Arabia the biggest importer. The US and Europe are not looking at India for imports, as our prices are high. It recently fell due to the gutkha ban in many states. However, recently, when auctions reopened after a month’s closure, the price of cardamom started to climb and has moved up to Rs 1,150 a kg for the eight-mm variety from Rs 950 a kg a fortnight earlier, up 21 per cent.
“The price of the spice won’t go higher than these levels, as the higher price will not be viable for further demand and the old crop has started to enter the market,” said Moolraj Ruparel, a Mumbai-based exporter.