Sichuan peppers, a signature ingredient of the Southwest China province, are fetching relatively high prices in the U.S., a signal that Sichuan cuisine is gaining in popularity there. According to a CCTV report Wednesday [8 November 2017], the mouth-numbing peppercorn is selling in the U.S. for as much as ten times the domestic price…Full Article: Nov 2017

Key Point

  • In the US market, Sichuan peppers retail for USD 2.99 per 5.6 gram bag.

ChinaAg Comments

  • Sichuan pepper, aka Sichuan peppercorn (Zanthoxylum spp.), is a spice native to Sichuan Province that is used in a variety of Chinese dishes and as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In Sichuan, the spice is primarily harvested during August and September.
  • In 2005, the USDA lifted its ban on Sichuan peppercorn. The heat treatment requirement was reportedly shelved shortly thereafter.
  • From October 2002 to September 2003, USDA-APHIS confiscated nearly 11,000 lbs. (~5 MTs) of Sichuan peppercorn. Only Sichuan peppercorn that had undergone verified heat treatment (i.e. ~140 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy potential canker bacteria) could be imported.
  • From October 2001 to September 2002, USDA-APHIS confiscated 7,000 lbs. (~3.1 MTs) of Sichuan peppercorn.
  • In 1968, the USDA instituted a ban on Chinese citrus due to concern of the spread of citrus canker bacterial disease. The ban included Sichuan peppercorn since it is part of the citrus family. The ban would not effectively be enforced until 2002.

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