Cardamom may become costlier on festive demand

KOCHI: Cardamom may get costlier this festive season as prices have rebounded after a drop, thanks to scanty monsoon showers in Idukki in Kerala where it is mostly grown.

The spice, which is widely used in sweets and confectionary, has breached the Rs 1,000 per kg mark again. Earlier this year, prices had reached a high of Rs 1,400 per kg on the back of a sharp drop in output last year, when the crop plunged 50 per cent to about 15,000 tonnes. The September futures for delivery at Multi-Commodity Exchange (MCX) stood at Rs 1,068 per kg on Friday.

The current harvest season has just begun, with poor rains belying expectations of an early onset of plucking period. Good pre-monsoon showers had indicated a bumper crop, pulling prices down to Rs 800 per kg level. “The flowering was good but the conversion to fruit was less as monsoon rains were not as intense as expected. Anyway, the output will be slightly better than last year,” said KS Mathew, a cardamom grower.

With the festive season beginning next month, the demand from northern states has picked up, leading to an increase in prices. “GST has facilitated the flow of the commodity to the north Indian markets. The domestic sales could see an upswing,” Mathew said.

The export demand is also looking good. “This time we have started the season with virtually no carryover stock. Hence we feel whatever we produce will be absorbed by the market,” said PC Punnoose, general manager of Cardamom Processing and marketing Cooperative Society Ltd.

Production shortfall and robust overseas demand had led to thinning of carryover stock. “As a result the prices are likely to remain at a high level during the year,” Punnoose said.

The export volumes, at 3,850 tonnes in 2016-17, were 30 per cent lower from a year earlier. However, as India was able to command a better price in the global market till the entry of Guatemala, the largest producer of the spice, the value showed just 6 per cent drop at Rs 421 crore.

“Right now the exports have slowed down as we are waiting for more arrivals to reach the market. We may be able to send more shipments as the output will be better than last year,” said Anjo Jose, executive director of exporting firm Mas Enterprises.

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