The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has revised up its forecast for Vietnam's pepper exports this year to about 123,500 tonnes, and earning the country 894 million USD in turnover.

The figures would represent a 22 percent year-on-year increase in value but equalling the previous forecast in terms of volume.

The ministry attributed its revised prediction to limited global supplies of pepper and rising prices of the product. That would create more favourable conditions for Vietnam to further expand its pepper exports.

The International Pepper Community (IPC) previously said the world market would likely see a shortage of 51,000 tonnes of pepper this year. Vietnam and India , the two largest pepper producers in the world, have finished harvesting the 2011-12 crop while two others, Sri Lanka and Indonesia , have started their main crops. That means world pepper prices could still rise.

Surging prices of pepper on the global market have facilitated Vietnam 's exports. During the first five months of this year, the country's exports saw annual increases of 47 percent in value to 424 million USD and 15 percent in volume to 15,000 tonnes.

During the period, the US remained the largest importer of Vietnamese pepper, accounting for 12.8 percent of the country's pepper export volume. It was followed by Germany and the Netherlands .

The ministry wants to expand the country's pepper crop to 150,000ha with annual exports of 1 billion USD by 2015.

The Vietnam Pepper Association has said the country needs a comprehensive strategy to add value to pepper products to achieve ambitious targets. The strategy will have to focus on encouraging pepper producers to invest in processing technologies to add value and build brand names for Vietnamese pepper products. -VNA