Trading in Peppercorns accounts for almost 25 percent of the trade in spices and this has been the case for over two thousand years. It was introduced to Egypt and, later, Rome by Arab traders who would transport it by sea. They later began to use the “Silk Route” to transport it via land. Later on the Greeks and the Romans discovered the source of the spice and thus trading competition increased. These days Peppercorns are grown at multiple locations around the globe. However the best produce is still available from traditional providers such as the Malabar Coast in India.
Pepper has been considered to be more precious than Gold at one point in history. It was even used as currency. Pepper is also widely used in traditional Indian medicine as a potent cure for a variety of afflictions, mostly to do with the breathing system. Peppercorns have been used as a form of snuff as well. Today, however Peppercorns are mainly used to spice up a large variety of dishes. It is almost always paired with Salt and the sight of ground pepper alongside a shaker of salt is ubiquitous.
Peppercorns have influenced the course of history and are, in part, responsible for the discovery of many sea and land trading routes of the past. They were the reason explorers like Columbus searched for better ways to reach the “Spice Islands”. Trade in peppercorns is a volatile and dynamic business. Prices fluctuate greatly and can influence related goods greatly. There is also a Pepper Exchange in India in the city of Kochi. Despite being called the International Exchange, Trading is largely domestic with strict regulations and restrictions on international membership.