In less than three years, the value of Penja White Pepper has doubled as chefs around the world fall in love with its unique flavour. It also stands out as the first product south of the Sahara to be granted Geographical Indication status, effectively giving it Intellectual Property. If you haven’t tasted it yet, Penja White Pepper from Cameroon is making its way to a restaurant near you.
People love it for its rich, lasting flavour and mild taste which is attributed to the volcanic soils in Penja, a town in the Littoral Region of Cameroon where the largest plantations growing the fruit are found. Demand from abroad has encouraged farmers in Cameroon to increase production and improve the overall value with improved farming techniques, promotion, and branding.
The man charged with that assignment is agro-economist Emmanuel Nzenowo, the Executive Secretary of the body that manages the trademark. Penja pepper farmers are one of the most organized groups in Cameroon and come together to train, share ideas, and collaborate to maintain the quality of the product. Since 2016 over 300 tonnes of the product are exported every year.
Over the last few years, Penja White Pepper has been featured on the BBC and Quartz, with Bloomberg calling it the world’s most coveted white pepper. It is five-star reviewed on Amazon and is available in speciality stores like Edelices Gourmet Food in the UK and Harrods.
“Most white peppers are mediocre because they aren’t dried properly and a bit fermented and bitter. But I’ve never had a bad Penja pepper.” New York chef Lior Lev Sercarz told Bloomberg in 2016.
At the moment, Cameroon is the largest producer and plans to remain the dominant supplier on the market. The benefits to farmers have been great too. Twenty years ago, when it was mostly consumed locally in Cameroon revenues were low for Cameroonian farmers, but since 2013, when Penja White Pepper received GI status, they have gone up over 500 per cent. This trend looks set to continue as the flavour spreads.
Stay in the loop with Export Portal
Export Portal is the best place to get the latest updates in the import/export world. Sign up for our newsletter today and stay informed.