Indian cumin prices continue to slide on increased arrivals from this year’s harvest and a lack of trading activity amid the re-escalation of COVID-19 in India. The Mintec price of Indian cumin at the benchmark Unjha market fell by 2% in the four-week period to 12th May, and down by 9% compared to the same time last year, at INR 12,300/100kg. Trading in some other markets has been suspended amid new lockdown measures to bring the COVID-19 spread in India under control.
The Federation of Indian Spice Stakeholders (FISS) earlier projected the size of the 2021 harvest at 479,000 tonnes, a decline of 11% year-on-year (y-o-y), following a reduction in production area and lower yields. The FISS estimates the 2021 production area at 950,000 hectares, in comparison to 1.03 million hectares in 2020, down 7.5% y-o-y, as farmers shifted to better performing cash crops such as coriander, mustard and pulses. Other industry production estimates range from as low as 390,000 tonnes to 560,000 tonnes, with the anticipated production shortfall ranging from 7% to 13%, as the crop was damaged by adverse warm weather in the build up to the 2021 harvest.
Local Indian demand for the spice has been muted, according to trade sources, due to uncertainty surrounding the sharp rise in new COVID-19 cases in India. The number of new COVID-19 infections rose from a seven-day average of 15,500 at the end of February, to almost 400,000 by the beginning of May. This has curbed buying interest as the majority of the spice is consumed domestically.