Cambodia has experienced a 30 per cent decline in pepper exports in the first eight months of 2023, exporting over 5,000 tonnes, compared to the same period in 2022, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

This reduction is attributed to the global economic crisis affecting purchasing orders and challenges including climate change impacting yield and quality. Furthermore, some exports to Vietnam and Thailand have been conducted without applying for phytosanitary certification, resulting in unrecorded exports through unofficial corridors.

Mak Ny, president of the Cambodia Pepper and Spice Federation (CPSF), highlighted that the market price has decreased, prompting some farmers to stock their goods for later sale.

“The hot weather and lack of irrigation water made many plants die,” he said, noting that exploring new markets has been deemed vital to attract more investors to support, grow and export the product.

“In ASEAN, Vietnam is a big market for Cambodian pepper. However, the Kingdom still faces tariff barriers and hygiene issues despite some regional and bilateral free trade agreements,” he added.

Dam Savourn, an assistant at the Kampot Pepper Association, noted that the export of their output has remained consistent with the previous year, reaching 88 tonnes. EU Land and Pepper Investment Co Ltd recently purchased about 26 tonnes of the commodity, forecasting exports to exceed 100 tonnes by year-end.

“The price of Kampot pepper is just like in previous years. The purchase order is agreed upon between companies and farmers, adhering to the stipulations, and the association has noted that they will acquire all produce from growers as agreed upon in 2023,” Savourn said, expressing optimism that the El Nino phenomenon would not affect production due to favourable conditions in the region.

As per the CPSF price list on September 24, the price of ordinary black pepper ranged from $2,780 to $3,120 per tonne. Geographical Indication (GI) certified pepper was priced significantly higher, with black pepper at $15,000 per tonne, white at $28,000 and red at $25,000.

The ministry reported that 18 provinces including Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri, Tbong Khmum and Kampot cultivate pepper. The country exports to numerous foreign destinations, including Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India, Germany, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia.