As more international travelers discover the taste sensations that await them in Vietnam, the country’s exports are surging for one of the ingredients of Vietnamese cuisine (and most other cuisines): pepper.
By far, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer and exporter of black and white pepper — with 125,000 acres growing well over 110,000 metric tons with a $500 million export value. That far exceeds pepper production in Indonesia, Brazil and India, the next biggest growers. The biggest importer of Vietnamese pepper: USA.
This year is working out well for Vietnam’s pepper farmers; prices just rose $100 a ton to $6,150 for black pepper and $6,500 per ton of white pepper. Through mid-March, Vietnam had already exported 20,374 tons, a 22% increase in volume and 73% in value.
But for the world’s importers to make their food taste anything like Vietnamese cooking, they’ll need a more ubiquitous ingredient that Vietnam mostly keeps to itself: fish sauce.