Pepper is a spice that you will find in almost every kitchen.
For a chef, it is one of the essential kitchen tools that must have.
It is called the king of spices for its extensive usage in the kitchen.
But of all the spices in your kitchen, why is it so expensive?
There are some reasons why it is so expensive.
This article is designed to discuss the top five reasons why this spice is very expensive.
Why Is Pepper So Expensive?
1. The Production Process Is Extensive And Expensive
It is not easy to produce pepper.
Unlike other naturally occurring spices like salt, it is grown.
It comes from a flowering vine of the Piperaceae family.
Pepper is a native plant in India, but today it can be cultivated in all countries worldwide.
It, therefore, requires intensive work of planting and harvesting.
As such, the harvests are seasonal, and low production results in increased prices.
The whole process of farming this crop is labor-intensive.
It requires garden preparation, planting, cultivation and harvesting.
The overall process is not only time-consuming but also expensive.
Tilling of the land requires machinery which can be bought or rented.
The seedlings can be bought online or from a local agrovet shop.
Weeding is necessary, especially when the plant is still young and small, to facilitate healthy growth and maximum produce.
When it comes to harvesting, it is a time-consuming process and is labor-intensive.
In this way, you find that even before getting the final product, the process has consumed a lot of money.
Such expenses are factored into the final cost of the product.
After harvesting, the raw materials are then processed by the company into a finished product.
The process involves machinery and human labor.
In the end, the company packages and sells the pepper at a profit.
In summary, the whole process of producing the final product involves garden preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting, and processing.
These processes are time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly, resulting in the final product being expensive.
But for something like salt, it is a naturally occurring mineral and is easy to get and process, making it cheaper.
2. Increased Consumption
When the demand for a particular product exceeds supply, the price rises.
Research indicates that the global pepper consumption between 1991 and 2011 rose by 60% to reach 430,000 tons.
The rise in consumption is said to have been fueled by increases in some major producing countries like India, Brazil, China, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.
While pepper consumption in South East Asia has surged almost by four-folds, in China, the demand has increased by 200%.
In the European market, the demand has increased at a slower rate of 15% and 45% in North America.
In Asia, the demand has been propelled by increased meat products, increased wealth, and disposable income.
As such, the demand for pepper in the international market is undeniable.
It has been acknowledged by producers, traders, and consumers.
For the last decades, pepper consumption has indicated a significant increase, and only in 2008, there was a decrease in consumption.
However, afterward, the consumption rate has continued to rise.
For instance, in 2006, pepper traded for $1500 per ton, but by 2014 it had reached $12000 per ton based on origin and variety.
White pepper is the most expensive among all other varieties because it requires extra processing resulting in wastage.
Recently, consumption has been annually exceeding production, which leads to a reduction in global stocks.
This is what makes this product the most expensive spice in your kitchen.
3. Medicinal Value/ Purpose
Similar to other Eastern spices, pepper has historically been used in traditional medicine.
Both black and white pepper are said to contain about 5 to 10% of Piperine and other biomolecules, which have traditionally been used to relieve people from pain caused by several diseases.
The piperine compound is used as an antidepressant when mixed with Knotweed.
With increased cases of depression resulting in high death rates, medical professionals recommend the use of pepper as a way of managing depression.
Also, it prevents the user from becoming addicted to antidepressant medicine.
It is also known to protect the neural system and to reduce inflammation cases.
An investigation of Piperine’s effect on mood and cognitive disorder indicated that the compound contains antidepressants and cognitive enhancers.
Thus, consumption of pepper can also promote brain function.
The presence of Piperine in pepper contributes to reducing oxidative stress resulting from a high-fat diet.
In research undertaken to determine the effect of black pepper on tissue lipid peroxidation, the result indicated that black pepper could reduce high fat diet-induced oxidative stress to the cell.
Other molecules other than Piperine have been found to play a significant role in scavenging free radicals.
It has also been used as an antimicrobial in the fight against infections.
Research indicates that Piperine contains strong antibacterial properties, and that’s why pepper has been used together with salt in preserving certain foods for a long period.
These properties prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the food.
It is said to stimulate digestion.
The presence of pepper in soup or salads stimulates the digestive enzymes in the stomach, increasing one’s appetite.
Piperine has been identified as the world’s first bioavailability enhancer.
You will find that it is not that we do not eat healthy in most cases, but the problem lies with the absorption process.
In some instances, when nutrients are not fully absorbed in the bloodstream, they pass through the small intestines and are excreted without impacting the body as intended.
However, pepper has been used with turmeric to promote efficiency in the absorption process.
Piperine works by enhancing the bio-absorbance of curcumin present in turmeric as it has a stronger effect on the brush walls of small intestines.
Unlike salt, which is used to make the food taster, pepper spices the food and contains medicinal properties.
Thus, the extensive use and benefits of pepper make it expensive.
4. Intensive Processing Is Required
Unlike salt, pepper undergoes various processing stages before we can get the final product.
This calls for extra cost to be effected on the product.
Of all the varieties of pepper, the white one is more expensive than the rest.
This is because white pepper undergoes extra processing resulting in high wastage and reduced output compared to red and black.
When the production quantities are small compared to high demand, it increases prices, making pepper among the most expensive spices in your kitchen.
5. International Recognition
Pepper is not an Indian spice anymore.
It has gained global recognition in the international trade market.
In recent years its significance has internationally been recognized by producers, traders, and consumers.
This has resulted in a rapid increase in prices.
Any product that gains international recognition, its demand increases, exceeding the productivity levels; thus, the cost will rise as the producers try to strike an equilibrium between the demand and supply.
Why Is Black And White Pepper So Expensive?
In recent years black pepper has been recognized by its producers, traders, and consumers in the international trade market.
International recognition has contributed to the increased prices of this pepper flavor.
Black pepper, unlike green ones, requires more time in the garden to ripen.
This reduces the frequency of preparing the land for the next cycle.
Also, they require extended labor until they are ready for harvest.
The extended labor and time to maturity are factored in the production cost making this product flavor costly than the green ones.
However, white pepper is more expensive than all the other flavors, including black.
This is because it requires the pepper to ripen.
The black pepper is hulled the out cover such that you remain with the white seed.
The out cover is what gives the black pepper its aroma.
While other flavors require drying and gridding, the white is overly processed.
The berries are usually soaked under slow running water for a week.
This process removes the out cover leaving the seed grains.
It is then dried and sold as white grains, or it is ground into powder.
It has the same taste as the black pepper, but the aroma is lost with the cover.
The more time is taken to ripen and over-processing, the higher the cost of these two flavors.
How to Cut Down The Cost Of Purchasing Pepper
Despite pepper being one of the most expensive spices, it is something you would not want to miss in your kitchen.
How can you ensure your kitchen does not run out of pepper while at the same time maintaining low cost?
Below are some of the alternatives in which you can implement and save a dollar.
With these tips, you do not have to forgo other spices or flavors.
You will get to retain all your kitchen spices and flavors at a low cost.
Check Your Local Stores
Asian markets are said to offer much more for very little money.
For instance, the Hispanic market is known for cheap chipotle powder, garlic, and chili powder, among other spices of Asian origin.
The products might not be packed in a fancy container, but their content is of high quality and at a pocket-friendly price.
Visit A Dollar Store
Dollar stores are discount stores and are available in the U.S and Canada, among other countries.
Looking forward to saving a little bit on pepper, head out to your local dollar store.
Most of these stores have a full section of spices.
You will find your pepper here at an affordable price.
Shop In The International Aisle
Want to save money on pepper?
Visit your local store and head to the international foods section.
You will probably get twice the half price of pepper.
This section has a standardized price to ensure all consumers can afford their favorite spices.
Ensure the cost does not constrain you from purchasing that pepper spice that your kitchen cannot stay without by visiting this section and get to enjoy great deals and prices of all spices.
Buy In Bulk
One of the efficient ways to save money is buying goods in bulk.
Similarly, you can buy spices such as pepper in bulk either from an online store or walking into a physical one.
Most large grocery stores and supermarkets like Aldi have their product packed in bulk.
Buying in bulk is always cheaper, and you can refill your smaller containers at home.
The cost of buying in smaller quantities is always higher than buying in bulk.
Retailers do this to encourage bulk buying so that the products can move quickly in the market.
Thus through this attempt, it is essential to consider purchasing in bulk spices that are known to be costly, like pepper.
Warehouse stores are another place where you can find spices in bulk and lower than the ordinary local store.
Some stores like Sam’s and restaurant supply stores sell spices in bulk at low prices.
You can find about 4 ounces for less than what you can pay for one ounce at your local grocery store.
Are you living in an area with few retail options?
You can try online stores as some are said to offer great deals for spices.
You can try the spice house or Penney’s; they are known to offer great discounts for quality spices.
Before ordering online, factor in the shipment cost and determine if it is worthwhile.
Grid Your Pepper
Whole grain pepper is cheaper compared to the powdered one.
Instead of purchasing the powdered one, you can get by the whole grains at a favorable price and grid them yourself.
All you need is a grinder like that one for coffee beans.
You can also use a zester.
Besides, why should you pay extra for services you can give yourself for free?
Even if larger machines in the factory grind them, you will still get the same quality when you do it yourself in the comfort of your home.
Taking a few moments to grind your pepper can save you some dollars that can be used to purchase other spices.
Grow It In Your Survival Garden
A survival garden can save you a lot of cash while at the same time offering you healthy organic products right at your doorstep.
How big should be the survival garden to start growing crops?
The size does not matter in this case.
If all you got is a small kitchen garden or a balcony, the only thing you need to do is to prioritize.
Utilize your space maximally by planting herbs, crops, and spices that are costly in the market.
Despite pepper being a tropical crop, it can still do well in a region experiencing four seasons a year.
All you need is to plant while it is a little bit warm and moist to facilitate the crops’ germination and growth.
Through these money-saving tips, you get a chance to harvest varieties.
You can harvest the green pepper when they are still young.
If you want yellow pepper, you will wait until the green ones turn yellow, and then you can remove the quantities you prefer for that flavor.
For red pepper, you have to wait until they are ripe and for the black and white ones.
This process not only reduces the cost of purchase but eliminates it.
Armed with this money-saving tip, you are assured of never running out of your favorite spices while at the same time cutting the expenditure.
Dry It Yourself
After harvesting your pepper, you can dry them slowly for easier storage.
You can do this by packing the spices into an ice cube tray and completely cover the pepper with water, then freeze.
You can then proceed to grind the pepper into powder.
To get white pepper, you will be required to further process the black ones by removing the black cover such that you are left with the seed only.
After drying them, you can grind them into powder for safe storage and in a state of ready-to-use product.
While pepper is one of the most expensive spices on the market, there is no need to worry about not having it in your kitchen.
There are some remedies that you can employ to minimize the cost of purchasing pepper while at the same time ensuring your kitchen does not run out of supply.
You can either plant or buy in bulk, among other strategies.
You are aware of the five primary reasons why pepper is the most expensive spice in the market and ways you can supply your kitchen at a lower cost.