Pepper culture in the world
Pepper is the most widely used spice in the world and has been around for millennia. In the Middle Ages, spice was used as currency. Pepper is obtained from a vine called Piper Nigrum and its quality depends on various factors such as climate, terrain, sun and care.
Currently, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer and exporter with a yield of more than 1,200 kilos per hectare cultivated. However, this spice is also grown in several parts of the world such as Cambodia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Costa Rica, etc.
Although pepper is considered a "black gold", in 2015 the price of pepper rose from $11,300 to $3,500 per tonne on the international market. This collapse is due to overproduction in Asian countries, Vietnam, China, Thailand and Cambodia.
The excellent Kampot pepper
We met a French-Cambodian company, Pepper Bay. Created in 2015 by a group of 10 friends, all in love with this spice. They grow 11 hectares of pepper on the 30 hectares of farm they own in Kampot, Cambodia. Kampot is a small town on the Gulf of Siam, 140 km from Phnom Penh.
The pepper of this region is recognized as an excellent product because of its soil and its mode of cultivation. Kampot benefits from the IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) label of the European Union which guarantees a certain quality and a purchase price. However, production in this part of Cambodia is very low; between 80 and 100 tons per year, which represents only 0.5% of pepper production in Cambodia.
The production of Cambodian pepper represents only 1% of that of Vietnam. Four varieties of pepper are grown: green pepper, white pepper, red pepper and black pepper. Some chefs use Kampot pepper to add exceptional flavor to their dishes because they believe in its particular taste.
The particularity of Kampot pepper is its method of cultivation coming from Java (former largest producer of the world in the 19th century). In fact, the vines are attached to a dead guardian like the vines. Indeed, the Pepper Bay team considers that to grow a high quality pepper, the plantations must suffer but also be at a constant temperature, humidity and indirect sunshine.
In addition, Pepper Bay has an ecological approach. They only use natural fertilizers such as cow dung, bat lighter, crab and shrimp shells, and crushed bones. Vines need a lot of care. Once harvested, the peppercorns are boiled to fix the flavors, then dried and finally sorted one by one.
For more information on Pepper Bay, you can visit their Facebook page by clicking here.