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World’s Oldest Spice Bears Vietnam Modern Riches

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At a time when commodity producers are enduring a slump in prices for everything from crude oil to iron ore to soybeans, Vietnam’s pepper farmers are prospering.

Black pepper trades at about $9 a kilogram (2.2 pounds), from $2 a decade ago, while white pepper costs as much as $13, a threefold gain, according to the International Pepper Community, a producer group in Jakarta. Consumption has exceeded supply for about eight years, boosted by demand for seasoning as Asia eats more meat, said Greg Estep, the global head of spices and vegetable ingredients at Singapore-based Olam International Ltd.