KUCHING: The Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) has no plans for now to fix a floor or ceiling price for pepper.
Deputy Plantation and Commodity Minister Datuk Willie Mongin said Malaysia is a member of the International Pepper Community (IPC) and imposing a ceiling price on the commodity would only result in Malaysia facing fierce competition with other pepper producers.
“For now, we do not have the ability to compete with other pepper producing countries. Take Vietnam for instance, they have large pepper stocks.
“With our current average production cost at RM10.20 and let say the floor price is set at RM10, Vietnam which has a larger pepper stock will certainly set their prices much lower than ours. That is why we are unable to set the ceiling price,” he told a press conference after his working visit to the MPB headquarters here on Friday (Oct 8).
On a related development, Willie said following a rise in demand, both at both local and international levels, pepper now fetched quite a profitable price.
The price of black pepper has surged to between RM17 and RM18 per kilogramme and white pepper to RM28.50 per kilogramme.
Just a few years ago, the price of pepper was at its lowest of between RM4 and RM5 per kilogramme, he added.
“In order to maintain this level, I urge the MPB to be more competitive in producing quality pepper for sale.
“We cannot sell pepper generically. We have to sell a creamy white pepper or those that are of export quality.
He said pepper farmers had to base the commodity on a single origin in order to get a premium price.
In line with this, Willie suggested pepper planters focus only on one pepper variety in their plantation.
“Mixing the varieties in one plantation will disrupt its quality,” he added.
Willie said the ministry would need to approach this matter at the grassroots level so that the pepper planters would be able to distinguish the varieties of pepper in their plantation.
He said that in actuality, the pepper at plantation level fetched a very low price and that the ministry was encouraging the entrepreneurs to add value by producing pepper-based products such as pepper massage oil and pepper paste.