The export pepper yield this year is forecast to fall due to unfavourable weather conditions, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

"The total pepper exported this year may reach 86,000 tonnes, worth nearly 619 million USD. These figures would be down by 30 percent in volume and 16 percent in value," the ministry said.

Head of the administrative office under the Vietnam Pepper Association, Tran Duc Tung said bad weather has strongly affected crops, and many older plants have died.

Since 2001, Vietnam has been the largest pepper producer and exporter in the world.

The ministry reported that in 2011, the country exported 125,000 tonnes of pepper, valued at 736 million USD. Although the year-on-year volume increased by only 7.2 percent, the value surged by 74.6 percent.

Demand for pepper has risen year-on-year in most markets.

Demand from Spain increased the most, at 270 percent, earning the country's pepper industry 25.6 million USD in 2011.

Spain was followed by Singapore with growth of 231.4 percent, worth more than 21 million USD. Other markets experiencing significant growth were Egypt at 212 percent, the US at 158 percent and India at 101 percent.

Last year, the price of pepper climbed sharply in both the domestic and export markets, thanks to high demand and low supply.

The price of black pepper soared to a record high of 161 million VND (7,600 USD) per tonne in September 2011, up by 116 percent against the same period in 2010. The price of white pepper also soared by 99 percent reaching 197.5 million VND (9,300 USD) per tonne.

On average, the price of pepper last year was roughly 5,870 USD per tonne, up by 66.3 percent over 2010.

However, since the beginning of this year the price has fallen by 800 USD per tonne.

"The domestic price is falling in line with the will market," the ministry said.

The ministry estimated that the price would continue to decline due to low demand. /.