How to Make High Quality Dry Black Pepper for Export Market?

How to Make High Quality Dry Black Pepper for Export Market?

True Story: Sri Lanka

“We are unable to control customer complaints due to moisture related complications, infestation, adulteration and most importantly providing certificates for sterilization requirements in different world regions. Also, the firm unable to cater into the lucrative spice retail packaging business both locally and internationally where percentage of markup will be at high 30s’ and 40s’.”

1. What is black Pepper?

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) , well known as “king of Spice” is the most consumed spice throughout the world, taken from drupes of the plant. Most of the black pepper producing countries are comes under the “ developing country” category and processors/packers are in developed world asking more hygienic raw material from these countries. Even today it is hardly to prepare value added product such as consumer pack to SME exporters in developing countries. Main reason not to by value added product from developing countries exporters is microbial contamination occurred such as Salmonella.

2. Why sterilization?

Despite black pepper’s contribution to overall food sensorial properties, the main draw back not only for the black pepper but also some other spices are microbiological contamination. Reduction of microbial number in spices through various treatments become a necessity considering possible changes that could occur during spices’ storage and application in food resulting in public health risk. There are no avenues or methods to treat contaminants like E-coli and Salmonella if found in final products. Therefore, this has been a growing concern of USA and EU for the imports they make from developing countries where the sanitation is a luxury but a necessity.

3. How Contamination Occur?

The contamination may occur at any stage of processing such as harvesting, transportation and even during drying if the proper precaution measures are not taken. There are no avenues or methods to treat contaminants like E-coli and Salmonella which occur during the processing. This basically happen due to human interaction with pepper which can be eliminated but those methods are costly.

4. What are the Sterilization Methods Available?

Commonly used sterilization methods and description of the same are shown below.

Steam Sterilization
Gamma Irradiation
EtO (Ethylene Oxide)

Steam Sterilization

Steam sterilization is achieved by exposing the spices to be sterilized with saturated steam under pressure. Steam enhances the ability of heat to kill microorganisms of spices by reducing the time and temperature required to denature or coagulate proteins in the microorganisms. Color fading, reduce voltaic compound content and aroma deterioration is inevitable.

Gamma Irradiation

Gamma radiation is a type of high-energy radiation that is different from x-rays. The gamma irradiation process uses Cobalt 60 radiation to kill microorganisms on a variety of different products in a specially designed cell. This method associate some issues such as with high cost, safety measures skillful employees and finally mistrust of consumers.

EtO (Ethylene Oxide)

It is gas used mainly to sterilize medical instruments and treat spices. EtO exposure has been recorded to be associated with cancer of blood. This is not recommended by EU considering carcinogen residues but this method is accepted by USA.

All the above methods associate high cost for machinery & skillful employees which are impeding factors to adopt and use those methods for developing country processors/exporters.

5. Is there any alternative other than sterilization?

Yes. But it has to follow basic steps shown in below figure and this method is proven in Sri Lankan few exporters/processors and could be able to get through all required certifications and test reports requested by both EU & USA buyers.

6. How to Prepare Black Pepper to Penetrace EU & USA Markets

Black pepper processing can be summarized as below along with necessary machineries in order to follow the process for anyone who who wishes to start pepper processing.

Receive Pepper Corn

Step 01

Receive Pepper Corns

Seed Remover

Step 02

Seed Remover


Step 03

SS Hot Water Wash

Bubble Water Wash [TDS Water]


Step 04



Step 05



Step 06



Step 07



Step 08


Gravity Separator

Step 09

Gravity Separator

Process Seeds

Step 10

Process Seed

Packing Processed Seeds

Step 10

Vacuum Packing of processed pepper seeds.

Packing Processed Seeds

Step 11

Packing Pepper Powder Processing

SS Grinder

Pepper Powder


7. What are the machineries Used for Black Pepper Processing?

Machinery requirement for SME firm who wish to process black pepper is given in below table with their purpose.

Machine & Equipment Capacity Day Production Purpose of Use
Crates Accessory Accessory To transport raw materials
Pepper Thresher 150Kg/Hour  1,600 Kg To thresh the pepper
Washing Plant 200Kg/Batch 1,600 Kg To wash with hot water of raw spices
RO Plant 2000Lt/Day 2,000 Lt To purify water/make TDS water
Water Tanks 1,000Lt/5,000Lt 60,00 Lt To use for washing
Bubble Washing 25Kg/Batch 1,600 Kg To wash with TDS water
Dryer- 1,000kg 1000kg per batch 1,000 Kg To dehydrate spices
Dryer -300kg x 2 600kg per batch 600 Kg To dehydrate spices
Pepper Cleaning Machine 400Kh/Batch 1,600 Kg To clean pepper
Inspection Conveyer Accessory Accessory To move the raw material
De- stoner 1000Kg/Batch 3,000 Kg To remove adulterations in raw material
Gravity Separator 400Kg/Hour 3,200 Kg To grade spices according to weight
Elevator Accessory Accessory To move the raw material
Grinder/Crusher 200Kg/Hour 1,600 Kg To grind spices
Packing Table Accessory Accessory To use for packing
Vacuum Pack 4 pack/ Min 1920 To vacuum pack final products
Continuous Sealing Machine Accessory Accessory To seal bulk packing
SS Racks Accessory Accessory To store packed spices

About Author

The author of this article has been in the export industry for more than 15 years as a consultant in divers export related products and he is willing to share his hands on experience in the industry for the betterment of all parties involved including valuable consumers. Sharing is the caring future of the globe. He would love to share his hands on experience and industry secretes with us. Once his experience unfolded in written form, we would love to share them with our valuable readers who always motivate us to add good stuff for the site. The author is agreed to answer your issues pertaining to this article once a week since he is involving with lot of projects. Do not miss this opportunity preset your issue with him free of charge. Just write to us or comment with your mail address.

What is Kitul [Caryota Urens]?

What is Kitul [Caryota Urens]?

Kitul industry in sri lanka context

Caryota Urens is a species of flowering plant in the palm family, native to Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar and Malaysia perhaps elsewhere in Indo-Malayan region, where they grow in fields and rainforest clearings, it is regarded as introduced in Cambodia. The epithet urens is Latin for “stinging” alluding to the chemicals in the fruit.

The story of Sri Lanka’s most beloved sweetener starts with the Kithul, or fishtail, palm tree. Kithul (Caryota Urens) also known as fish tail palm or toddy palm, is an indigenous plant, naturally grown in the wild. The Kithul industry in Sri Lanka has a history that dates back over 2000 years. It is a unique industry to Sri Lanka because though the Kithul tree is grown in other countries they didn’t know the technology to tap the inflorescence and get the sap. Long before sugar came to the market Kithul was the main sweetener in Sri Lanka. It was a cottage industry that produced treacle, jaggery and toddy.

Once the Kithul flower is tapped, 2 time a day tapper needs to climb the tree to collect Kithul sap. Tappers are making sharp incisions at the base of a cluster of flowers that droop down from a branch like a bunch of grapes. This is Kithul syrup, or Kithul Peni, as it’s called locally. At its purest, it boasts woody, floral, smoky and even savory notes and is used widely in Sri Lankan cuisine. It is also further boiled down and set into molds, usually fashioned out of empty coconut shells, to make little blocks of Hakuru, or jaggery, a partially refined palm sugar used all over the island.

Kitul Tree

Kitul Tree

Kitul Syrup

Kitul Tapping

Kitul2 2

Ready for Tapping

Kitul Raa

Kitul Toddy

However, the story of Kithul is not as sweet as its final products due to following reasons.

  1. Deterioration of traditional tapping technology
  2. There is no formal cultivation system/programme for Kithul
  3. Industry depend on naturally grown Kithul trees.
  4. No industries have established from Kithul other than Jagarry or Pani.

Having noted above issues the firm has identified possible solution brought forward by stakeholders of the industry.

With the effluxion of time the industry faced challenges and traditional technology used in tapping deteriorated from generation to generation as people kept the formula a closely guarded secret.  As the demand for Kithul products is higher people used various chemicals such as carbide and battery acids to tap inflorescence. The success rate of a Kithul tree had dropped to 20-30%. Finally, the industry was in a crisis and on the verge of dying as the low success rate and lower productivity discouraged people from tapping the trees. Fortunately, ITI invented a solution called KASPER or Kithul Activation and Sap Production Enhancing Reagent. However, with KASPER, any Kithul inflorescence can be tapped successfully. Hence the success rate increased 80-100%. Similarly, the sap yield as well as tapping duration increased and with KASPER now a tree can produce nine liters of sap per day and the minimum tapping duration is 90 days.

KASPER has the ability to boost the sap secretion if the sap flow decreases or ceases. It can be used even during the rainy season and can be used by a person who doesn’t have experience of the traditional tapping method. ITI scientists have invented the technology to address some other issues that prevailed as a bottleneck to the development of the Kithul industry. The rapid fermentation quality of Kithul sap was one such issue. The ITI introduced a non-chemical method to address this issue and now the sap can be preserved up to seven days. This helps to transport the sap from the collecting centers to factories and scale up the industry. This technology will also promote the use of Kithul Sap as a drink.

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What Is Organic Food?

What Is Organic Food?

There are a lot of different meanings to the term organic provided by various authors. However, it’s just naturally grown Fruits & Vegetables and all other eatables. Essentially, the agricultural produce is processed without using any sort of synthetic ingredients. As a result of this mechanism, we all can demarcate the term organic from other inorganic foods and eatables.

Universal Principle
The human body is the most sophisticated chemical factory in the universe without a doubt. Whatever you eat, it becomes you. Whatever you drink, it becomes you. Even if you eat dog food, you won’t become a dog. That’s why no mango tree produces apples or bananas. Wired right? Yes, it is but unfortunately, that’s the very truth. Fundamentally, the soil, water, and air are the source ingredients of any natural food. All humans eat these foods and accumulated the physical structure from infant to a grown man until we become dust and add to the soil again.

“Do you ever think that we all are fundamentally come from the soil and finally become soil again?” Isn’t it remarkable? So as humans, all the creatures in the universe are incorporated with this universal truth knowingly or unknowingly. The same universal principle is applicable to everything around us which is understood and felt by very few people. When the majority understand this principle, the whole world would be a clean place.

How Come Everything Remains Unchanged?
The base of unchanged structure and behaviour is controlled and managed by the gene or the source of every physical thing excluding man-made stuff. So it is clear that the gene keeps its integrity while accumulating the existing experience to the source for future generations which we called evolution. There may be very different views for this argument and this is just how I understand the things around me at this point in time.
If we closely examine this setup, it is evident that the natural structures are very much compatible with each other rather than man-made stuff. Without manmade stuff, the universe and the earth evolve for millions of years without any issue. The natural balance of nature was there until the industrial revolution. Thereafter the worse human intervention has been taken place till to date pealing Mother Nature as we wish without considering the universal principles and balance.

Why We Are So Weak Than Other Creatures
The main point is that our chemical structure is not compatible with what we eat and drink even though it does not change us physically. As a result of inappropriate food patterns, we became weak and our young generation becomes weaker than us genetically. To have a clear understanding, just compare a wild animal and a human say a tiger or a bird. They are far better than us. They don’t take medicine as we do. They just live with nature and nature takes care of them. It’s so simple and straightforward but difficult to grasp the principles behind it.

What Made Us Weak?
The things we eat, drink, and breathe make us stronger or weaker species. Those are the main ingredients for survival. If we eat natural food, drink fresh water, and breathe fresh air, then we become strong as we meant to be as per nature. However, with the current context, our societies and cultural development, and other various factors, we happened to use what is available for us to consume. Most of the time what is available for us to consume may not be compatible with our molecular structure. This may result in changing the fundamental nature of the human body or the most sophisticated chemical factory of the universe even though it tries its best to keep the natural structure. However, this may cause various issues for the chemical factory (human body) since it cannot be kept its integrity. Hence, mankind becomes victims to various inbuilt decease such as blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, etc. and it goes on and on until the next generation child born with the congenital illness. Is this the development we all have been searching for all these years?

Why We Need To Consume Organic /Natural Eatables
To keep our chemical factory cool and efficient, we need to eat natural food as much as possible. Then our health may not be an issue. However, to overcome this matter i.e. what is available for us has to be natural and the big corporates who have to produce mass-scale production need to follow this principle in order to help mankind. As individuals, we cannot do much as we are individually insignificant. But if all of us demand organic food then it has to be catered to fill the demand in the prevailing market which is also very difficult. However, I believe people must be understood the basics rather than going around the surface which can be seen and experience. We need to support the one who needs to understand the natural structure. After all, we must understand that we all will leave the earth one day for sure leaving nature to hold and care for our future generation. So it’s our responsibility to follow the good practices which are compatible with nature if not our kids may suffer the mess we’ve created.

Our Duty
As a team of individuals, we produce natural and organic products and we promote them organically as we know our products are natural. We don’t have money for marketing to sell our product aggressively. We believe nature is there to rule the world and we have to do our duty as responsible citizens to make the world a better place for our kids. I expect all of the readers of this post will spread this message around the globe and which will help a lot of people to understand the nature and importance of natural food.

What Are the Health Benefits of Vanilla Extract?

What Are the Health Benefits of Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla may be your favorite flavor when it comes to ice cream or pudding, but the extract offers so much more than a delicious taste. The health benefits of vanilla are vast. Just make sure you have the real stuff rather than cheaper, and often inferior, imitation extract.
Vanilla gives a delicious aroma and taste to baked goods and sweets. The scent of pure vanilla is almost intoxicating. But vanilla provides far more than just an accent to your sweet treats. Pure vanilla extract offers a variety of health benefits with minimal calorie impact.
“Vanilla extract contains a compound known as vanillin that has antioxidant, antidepressant and antitumor effects.”

About Vanilla Extract

Vanilla is actually a tropical, climbing orchid grown in many places, including Mexico, Central and South America and Tahiti. The flavor is extracted from the pod of the plant, also known as the “beans.” It’s been flavoring foods and drinks for hundreds of years — since the time of Montezuma.
To make vanilla extract, vanilla beans are cured and dried then treated with alcohol to create the dark-colored liquid. Don’t confuse 100-percent vanilla extract with commercially synthesized vanillin, which doesn’t contain the beneficial properties of vanilla. The 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act defined and chemically enforced labeling and standards relating to what it means to be a standard vanilla extract, as opposed to an imitation.
Vanilla contains somewhere between 250 and 500 flavor and fragrance compounds, with vanillin being the most prominent and studied. Vanilla, as a natural spice, is expensive — second only to saffron — which is why so many artificial vanilla products made from petrochemicals exist. These artificial versions are about 20 times cheaper than the real stuff.

Antibacterial Benefits of Vanilla

The health benefits of vanilla include antibacterial properties, meaning it may help prevent infection. The journal Molecules published research in November 2014 showing that when vanilla essential oil was applied to medical devices, it inhibited the growth of specific bacterial cells.
An earlier study, published in a 2011 edition of the Journal of Food Protection, showed that vanillin, ethyl vanillin and vanillic acid have antibacterial activity that combats the Cronobacter species. This bacteria causes severe and sometimes fatal infections in infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. The bacteria can taint some food during food processing or preparation.

Antioxidants in Vanilla

Oxidants and Antioxidants in Medical Science published research in 2013 showing that vanillin is a powerful scavenger of free radicals. Free radicals can form naturally in the body, but can appear in excess when you’re exposed to certain components in foods and the environment. Too many free radicals cause damage to cells and are thought to play a role in the development of cancer as well as other health problems notes the National Cancer Institute.

Due to the antioxidant and antitumor qualities of vanillin, it has a potential application in the therapeutic treatment of cancer patients. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity published research in December 2016 proposing that products containing vanillin (which includes vanilla extract) may be useful in inhibiting the free radicals responsible for tumor development.

Antidepressant Activity of Vanillin

The smell of vanilla is soothing and calming to many people who love the flavor, so it’s not surprising that it can have antidepressant effects. Research published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology in March-April 2013 showed that vanillin, in a dose of 100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (or 45 milligrams per pound), has antidepressant effects comparable to a common antidepressant medication known as fluoxetine. This study was performed on mice, however, not humans.
Fluoxetine, commercially known by the brand name Prozac, has side effects that include strange dreams, sleeplessness and changes in sex drive. Vanillin offers an alternative without these uncomfortable, disturbing side effects. You should, of course, check with your doctor before switching from prescribed antidepressants to vanilla extract as treatment.
An older Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute study published in 1994 in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging showed that, compared to humidified air alone, administration of a fragrance with a vanilla-like scent reduced reported anxiety in patients undergoing MRI for cancer screening. Vanilla is often added to scent perfumes and lotions due to its calming, sweet and pleasing aroma. The odor of vanilla extract on skin lingers, so you enjoy benefits for hours.

Magnesium and Potassium

Vanilla extract contains some magnesium and potassium — minerals essential for good health. Potassium is necessary for proper kidney and heart function as well as muscle contraction and nerve function. Adults need between 2,600 and 3,400 milligrams per day. The 6 milligrams in a tablespoon of vanilla extract may seem inconsequential, but every bit helps contribute to your daily needs.
Adults require from 320 to 410 milligrams of magnesium daily. A tablespoon of vanilla extract offers just 1 milligram of this mineral that contributes to muscle and nerve function and blood pressure regulation, among many other functions. A 2018 article in Open Heart reported that about 50 percent of Americans consume less magnesium than they need for good health. Again, every little bit helps, so the amount in vanilla extract counts.

Alcohol in Vanilla Extract

Yes, vanilla extract contains alcohol. In fact, it has a content between 35 and 40 percent, which is similar to the potent product known as Jägermeister. Consuming vanilla extract is safe in the quantities usually called for in recipes. You can buy it in grocery stores without a liquor license because the Prohibition-era Volstead Act exempted flavoring extracts from being considered as a regulated alcohol.

Vanilla extract was considered nonpotable, or so unpleasant to the taste buds that no average person would drink it straight from the bottle in any notable quantity. Don’t be fooled, however, because drinking a whole bottle of vanilla extract can result in drunkenness and development of health complications. You won’t accrue the health benefits of vanilla extract by chugging large amounts.


What Is an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API)?

What Is an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API)?

The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is the part of any drug that produces the intended effects. Some drugs, such as combination therapies, have multiple active ingredients to treat different symptoms or act in different ways.

Production of APIs has traditionally been done by the pharmaceutical companies themselves in their home countries. But in recent years many corporations have opted to send manufacturing overseas to cut costs. This has caused significant changes to how these drugs are regulated, with more rigorous guidelines and inspections put into place.

Components of Medications

All drugs are made up of two core components—the API, which is the central ingredient, and the excipient, the substances other than the drug that help deliver the medication to your system. Excipients are chemically inactive substances, such as lactose or mineral oil in the pill.

Strength of APIs

Manufacturers use certain standards to determine how strong the API is in each drug. However, the standard can vary widely from one brand to another. Each brand might use different test methods, that can result in different potencies.

In all cases, manufacturers are required by the FDA to prove the potency of their products in real-life patients, as well as in laboratory conditions.

Where Are APIs Made?

While many pharmaceutical companies are located in the United States and England, most API manufacturers are overseas. The largest are located in Asia, particularly in India and China.

More and more companies are outsourcing to cut costs on expensive equipment, employees, and infrastructure. While this has helped their bottom line, there is continued concern about the quality of these APIs produced overseas.

Notably, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals used to operate several manufacturing centers in the United States. Now, just 15% of their APIs are created in the U.S. and there are plans to end that small percentage and outsource all manufacturing overseas.


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