Black pepper is a familiar spice in our kitchen. The origin of black pepper is in the Malabar Coast of India. Today, black pepper is grown in many parts of the world. Vietnam, Brazil, and India are the three largest black pepper-producing countries in the world. In this article, we will go through the history and origin of black pepper.
The origin of black pepper
Black pepper is the fruit of the “pepper plant”, Piper nigrum. Peppercorn clusters develop as green cylinders on the vine, with little fruit but thin skins and a single seed inside. To grow, the plant requires a tropical climate and frequently attaches itself to adjacent trees. The berries resemble grapes when they are on the vine. Even when black pepper is collected, they are green like little peas. Regarding the origin of black pepper, it is indigenous to India, but Vietnam today produces and exports one-third of the world’s supply. The remaining two-thirds are made in collaboration with India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
The origin of black pepper started from thousands of years ago. Black pepper has a far deeper historical significance than you might assume. Black pepper was so valuable that trading channels were established to secure the pungent spice. As early as 1000 BC, India created spice routes with the Middle East so that more of the world could get their hands on “black gold”. The origin of black pepper is connected with the history of the contemporary world in numerous ways.
One of interesting facts about origin of black pepper is that pepper was so highly valued in ancient societies that it was employed as currency in Rome, and it’s said that a pound of black pepper could buy the freedom of a French serf. Despite its tremendous value, ancient cultures cooked with pepper in the same way as we do now. It was frequently used to top dishes to demonstrate a household’s immense wealth.
Some well-known names were even involved in the origin of black pepper. When Christopher Columbus set sail in the 15th century, he was looking for a more efficient spice route to the East Indies for these exotic spices. Black pepper was even used in mummification, and Ramses II was discovered with black pepper in his nostrils. The medicinal benefits of black pepper were also important in its rise to prominence.
As trade channels expanded and demand for black pepper increased, its value declined and it became the pepper we know today.
Black pepper vs other different types of pepper
You may have heard about many kinds of pepper when searching for the origin of black pepper, and it’s not a joke. There is green, crimson, and pink pepper in addition to black and white! Let’s learn about different types of pepper!
White pepper, which is especially popular in Thai cuisine, is derived from the same Piper nigrum pepper plant and farmed similarly, but the berry grows fully ripened, turning it red. The berry is then soaked, and the outer layer of flesh is removed, leaving only the white pepper seed. White pepper has a more robust flavour than black pepper. Indonesia – the origin of black pepper and white pepper – produces half of the white pepper in the world.
Because green pepper is the source of most pepper, these are also from the same species. These are vine-ripened berries that are generally preserved in brine rather than dried like black pepper. Green pepper, unlike their fiery cousins, is fresh and tangy.
If the Piper nigrum berries are kept on the vine for a long enough period of time, they will turn a beautiful, piercing red. Red pepper is rarely found on its own since they are usually taken away to create white pepper or dried to become black pepper. They are typically added to black peppercorn grinders for flavour or sold individually at health food stores. They have a milder flavour than their counterparts.
Origin of black pepper: How is Black Pepper Made?
Piper nigrum matures in four years but can be harvested for seven years. When a couple of the green berries on the vine begin to turn red, the vines are removed and separated from the pepper.
So, you’re probably asking when searching for the origin of black pepper, how is black pepper made? The fruit is dried by the sun or a machine to become the black pepper we know and love in our grinders. As it ferments, some enzymes cause the skin to darken and wrinkle. These are either ground and packed or put in a grinder for the purchaser to use on the spot.
Most of the black pepper used is whole black pepper. Here we tell you some black pepper facts Ground pepper typically lasts 3-4 months, however, whole black pepper can last up to a year. They also have different tastes. Because whole black pepper is powdered as needed, the peppercorn releases oils as it breaks down. This explains why freshly ground pepper has a greater flavour! Pre-ground pepper, on the other hand, has a less powerful and pungent flavour.
Top 6 pepper exporting countries in the world
The origin of black pepper goes back thousand years ago when it was grown in India. Today, Vietnam, Brazil, India, and Indonesia are the top four pepper-supplying countries, accounting for more than 90% of the market.
Vietnam: the leading black pepper supplier
Vietnam is the origin of black pepper which controls the majority of the world’s black pepper production and supply. Vietnam produces nearly 40% of the world’s black peppers. The output of pepper in Vietnam varies depending on the season, but it is typically between 200 and 280 thousand tonnes. The provinces of Dak Lak and Dak Nong produce over half of Vietnam’s pepper, followed by Dong Nai, Gia Lai, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, which are the origin of black pepper.
High price fluctuation is one of Vietnam’s difficulties. Prices were very low in 2019 and 2020 due to massive production and excess, and many farmers have given up pepper farming due to low profitability. This resulted in a 10-20% decrease in output. Prices rose again in 2020/2021, however, the Vietnam Pepper Association encouraged farmers not to increase their pepper harvest in 2021 to avoid oversupply. Vietnamese processors import huge volumes from Brazil, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Malaysia in order to ensure a constant supply and make use of the country’s large production and cleaning facilities. As a result, black pepper shipped from Vietnam is frequently a combination of several origins.
K-Agriculture Factory is the leading supplier in Vietnam. We are proud to have exported to many countries around the world such as the Philippines, Togo, Belarus, Tanzania, USA, and Canada. Please contact us at +84 855 555 094 (WhatsApp) to get a quotation.
Brazil: increasing production
Brazil controls 25% of the world’s black pepper trade. The states of Para and Espirito Santo produce the most black pepper in Brazil, accounting for 90% of the total, followed by Bahia and Maranhao. Production in Brazil fluctuates, although the tendency is upward. Brazil will have a record yield of 88 thousand tonnes in 2020.
As the origin of black pepper, Brazilian farmers have many years of experience in growing black pepper, they boosted their production area following a two-year period of high prices in 2015 and 2016. Many farmers moved from coffee cultivation to black pepper production as a more profitable crop, particularly in Espirito Santo. The harvest of black pepper in Brazil takes place from August to October in Pará and from July to August in Espirito Santo.
More than 98% of the black pepper produced and exported in Brazil is whole, with the remaining 2% crushed or ground. In addition to black pepper, Brazil is known as the world’s biggest provider of pink pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia), which is widely used in multicolored pepper mixes in Europe and around the world.
India: balancing between imports and exports
India is the origin of black pepper. Pepper production in India varies, although it is typically around 60 thousand tonnes. Due to increasing domestic consumption, India actually imports more pepper than it exports. Karnataka is the largest pepper-producing region in India, accounting for over half of the total output, followed by Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In India, harvesting season is normally at the beginning of the year. To deal more effectively with pests that come at different seasons, Indian farmers produce several types of pepper that ripen at different times.
Every year, India imports between 20 and 30 thousand tonnes of pepper. Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia are the top three suppliers. The Indian government has mandated a minimum price of 500 rupees per kg and a 70% import charge on imported pepper to safeguard local growers. This strategy did not have the desired results, and India was forced to deal with the illicit importation of inexpensive black pepper from neighboring nations, which resulted in cheaper pricing.
Indonesia: white pepper leader
Over the last five years, Indonesian pepper production has fallen somewhat, falling to roughly 61 thousand tonnes in 2020. Low pepper prices prompted this decline in production, causing many farmers to shift production to more profitable crops such as cassava. Indonesia’s harvest season lasts from July to October. Lampung is the most productive region, accounting for over half of the total Indonesian output, followed by the Bangka Belitung Islands and Kalimantan.
Although Indonesia is the origin of black pepper, nowadays Indonesia is well-known for its white pepper production, accounting for over half of the global white pepper market. White pepper accounts for almost one-third of all pepper produced in Indonesia. Bangka Belitung Islands, where white pepper is known as Muntok white pepper, is the main producer of white pepper. Kalimantan and Sulawesi are two other major producers of white pepper.
Cambodia: emerging organic supplier with protected geographical origin
Cambodia is able to produce organic black pepper due to favorable climate and soil conditions. Battambang is the most famous region of origin of black pepper, followed by Kampong Thom and Rattanakiri. Kampot pepper, also known as Poivre de Kampot in France, is officially recognized by the Cambodian government as a product with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) due to its distinct flavor and aroma. The majority of pepper grown in Kampot province is grown organically by smallholders. Cambodian pepper production is predicted to be between 18 and 20 thousand tonnes.
Sri Lanka: high-quality pungent pepper
Pepper is grown on around 40 thousand acres of land in Sri Lanka – the origin of black pepper. Matale, Kandy, Kegalle, Kurunegala, and Nuwara Eliya are the key producing districts. The total production is about 20,000 tonnes. Sri Lankan black pepper has a high piperine concentration, which fetches a premium price in the international pepper trade. High piperine content is appealing to pepper oil producers, many of whom are situated in India. This explains the high proportion of Sri Lankan exports to India. The majority of Sri Lankan pepper growers are smallholders who cultivate less than 2 hectares of pepper.
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