The prices of Cambodian dried chilies and black pepper in foreign markets have plummeted this year, traders said Thursday.
Cambodian dried chilies in Thai markets are selling at $800 per ton this year, trader Noun Phalla said. That’s a 33 percent decrease from the price of chilies last year.
Black pepper has fallen from $8,000 per ton last year to $2,700 this year, a 66 percent decrease, said Noun Phalla, who has been dealing in peppers and chilies for more than 20 years.
The market for the goods is traditionally unstable, depending mostly on Thai buyers, Noun Phalla said. But prices have reached a critical low, she said.
“My goods are in storage now. We are waiting for prices to come up, otherwise we’re facing a big loss,” Noun Phalla said.
Pepper and chili prices had been high in previous years because tensions between Thailand and Burma sealed the countries’ shared border, slicing imports. Burma is one of the region’s main pepper and chili exporters, Noun Phalla said.
But relations between the two countries have stabilized and Thais have resumed their old buying habits, bringing Cambodia’s pepper and chili heyday to an end, Noun Phalla said.
“We can’t compete with the cheap price [from Burma]. We’ll lose money this year,” she said.
But some say Cambodian traders have themselves to blame.
“[Buyers] always complain that our chili products are not dry enough to store because some traders mix water in to increase their weight,” trader Lay Sokha said.
Noun Phalla said her shop alone has sold 100 tons of dried chilies and about 50 tons of pepper this year.
As Cambodia gears up for a bid to enter the World Trade Organization, times are likely to get harder for some traders, Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Sok Siphana said Thursday.
Joining the world body will probably “encourage more competition among the traders, investors and manufacturers” and increase pressure for better chilies at lower prices, Sok Siphana said.