Brazil has been spicing up the world with an ever-increasing export of black peppers. In 2021, the export volume surpassed 51,600 tons, and consistent growth in terms of value has also been reported. In June, for example, black pepper was a remarkable product in our trade balance data, with a value increase of 90.6% compared to June 2020. It went from US$ 12.1 million in 2020 to US$ 23.0 million in 2021.
This promising market has been obtaining new players. Alexandra Nicoli is one of them. The pepper producer from Espírito Santo, in the Southeast of Brazil, has noticed the demand for black pepper increase, so she has been preparing her farm to reach new markets. “We have bought a better machine, hired a person who speaks fluent English, and contacted new professionals to start exporting,” she says.
Alexandra comes from a family tradition of farmers and her father has been producing food for over 40 years. Coffee, black pepper, cocoa, and beef are among the stars of their land. But they have chosen the black pepper business to make their farm travel abroad. “We already sell pepper to exporters and now we can produce it in large quantities, so why wouldn’t we take that step?”
There are some reasons for the increase in the export of Brazilian black pepper, but Alexandra believes that diversifying the production is part of the key to success. “The farm can’t survive with only one or two products,” she analyzes. She also credits her business’ rapid growth to the increase in Brazilian pepper demand: “The world seems to be more open to our products. Foreign buyers have been knocking on my door and asking for my peppers.”
Working with the right people is also important in this field. To increase her production of black pepper, Alexandra joined the right team: a partner takes care of the workforce and she is responsible for planting the young trees, so the partnership is profitable for both parties.
It is also noteworthy that the pepper farm is staffed mostly by women. “It is an easy job for them because it requires delicacy,” she adds. The little bunches are cropped by hand and transferred to a greenhouse with the right density and the correct humidity to dry out. Then, a machine separates the impurities and the product is ready to be shipped.
Another great advantage of the Brazilian black pepper is geographical. Like most Brazilian people, it can not stand very low temperatures and it likes the sun. With conditions such as lowlands, the right amount of rain, and a very mild winter, Alexandra and her colleagues from Espírito Santo can produce and export pepper all year long.
Black pepper is among the priority products of the Agro.BR project, together with mate leaf, ginger, cloves, and other spices. This sector reached a US$ 31.4 million value in July 2021, with a 15.8 tons volume. Their main destinations are the European Union, the United States, Uruguay, Argentina, and the Arab Emirates.