Indian Red Chilli Standards For Export
Author: Mohan Paramkusam, Credit manager, Axis Bank, Rajahmundry, India

Chilies are one of the important and commonly used spice all over the world and are believed to be originated in the tropical America (Peru). Major chilli growing countries are India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Sri Lanka in Asia; Nigeria, Ghana, Tunisia and Egypt in Africa; Mexico and the US in North and Central America; Yugoslavia, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary in Europe; and Argentina, Peru and Brazil in South America. Chilli crop came to the Asian continent during the sixteenth century with the identification of new sea routes by the Portuguese and the Spanish explorers. A large percentage of chilli production has shifted to Asia, as the South-Asian climate suits this vegetable crop. In the recent years, the high value varieties of chilli are grown in Asia only. Chilli is cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates, mostly as a rain-fed crop in India. The most ideal climatic conditions are rainfall requirement of about 850-1200 mm per annum and temperature range of about 20-25°C.

India is one of the major red chilli pepper exporting countries in the world. They are marketed as dry whole pods as well as in ground form. There are more than fifty chilli varieties grown in India. Each of these varieties differs from each other in pungency and color. The naga jolokia and the birds eye chillies are among the hottest chillies in the world and the bydagi chillies are known for their bright red color. The size is determined by length of the chilli pepper in accordance with the following table

Size classification of chilli

SN Size code Length (in centimetres)
1. 1 ≤ 4
2. 2 4 < 8
3. 3 8 < 12
4. 4 12 < 16
5. 5 > 16

Chilli is the largest spice item exported from India in terms of volume and occupies second position in terms of value. India exported red chillies worth USD 808,536,112 with total quantity of 460,448,769. Vietnam is the largest buyer of red chillies accounting for exports worth USD 216,657,211 followed by Thailand and Malaysia which imported red chillies worth USD 178,491,882 and USD 104,402,999 respectively (APEDA, 2015). Chilies are the most common spice cultivated in India. Almost all the states of India produce the crop. The Indian Chilli growing states are Andhra Pradesh (46%), Karnataka (15%), Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. Chilies are valued principally for their high pungency and color.

Pungency classification of chilli

SN Pungency Total capsaicinoids (microg/gm dry weight)
1. Mild 60 - 133
2. Medium 134 - 1,333
3. Hot 1,334 - 6,600
4. Extra hot > 6,600

Export specifications for red chilies

Red chilli peppers are mostly consumed as a whole or in powdered or flaked or paste form. Chillies, whole or ground (powdered), shall be free from living insects and shall be practically free from mould growth, dead insects, insect fragments and rodent contamination.

Specifications for red dry chilies

SN Category Specifications
1. Kinds Sannam S4 best, Teja Best, Byadige, Wrinkle 273, Wonder Hot, Tomato Chili, Mundu, Yellow Chili
2. Type Whole Chili with Stem, Whole Chili without Stem, Grounded Chili Powder, Chili oleoresin, Chili meal
3. Color Bright Red
4. Length as per grade
5. Pods without stalk 8% max
6. Moisture 12.5% max
7. Foreign material 2% max
8. Broken chilies 7% max
9. Loose seeds 2% max
10. Damaged and discolored pods 6% max

The whole and ground chillies may vary in colour from dark blackish red to orange yellow according to the variety. The pungency for the red peppers and the colour value for the paprikas are the most important parameters. The extractable colour of chilli is usually expressed in American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) color value (Spice board, 2016).

Specifications for chilli varieties

Variety Heat(in SHU) Colour (in ASTA)
Guntur Sannam S4 Type 35,000 to 40,000 32-34
Wonder Hot 5000 - 8000 70 - 100
Kasmiri chilli 52000-55000 50-60
Chapata 5000 - 9000 80 - 100
Byadigi (Khaddi) 10000 - 15000 156 - 200
273 16000 - 22000 80 - 100
LCA334 18000 - 30000 55 - 75
Devanoor Deluxe 25000 - 35000 90 - 120
US 341 35000 - 45000 80 - 110
Indam 5 40000 - 50000 60 - 80
Teja 65000 - 85000 50 - 70
Ellachipur Sannam-S4 Type 80000-85000 70-80
Naga jolokia 855,000-1,050,000 140 - 200

Red chilli powder is a major food ingredient in Indian and international cuisines. It brings its characteristic bright red color and pungency to any preparation it is used in. The chillies, ground (powdered) shall be ground to such fineness that all of it passes through 500 μm IS Sieve and nothing remains on the sieve.

Granule size of chilli

Granulation Size
Coarse 500 - 600µ
Medium 300 - 500µ
Fine 200 - 300µ

Red Chilli Flakes are obtained by crushing ripe, dried fruits of capsicum. Red Chilli Flakes are a vital ingredient in pizzas all over the world. they are usually added as a garnish along with oregano flakes to add a bit of spice to the pizza. The size of granules varies from 4.75 mm to 1 mm. Red Chilli Paste is obtained by grinding Cleaned, De-stalked fresh fruits of Capsicum frutescence. Chilli Paste is used mostly as a food ingredient in Asian and Western Cuisines.

Specification of Chilli Paste

SN Parameters Specification
1. Appearance Redish orange colored paste
2. Odour Characteristic pungent aroma of fresh chilli fruits
3. Added preservative 1%
4. Salt 15%
5. TSS 20-22%
6. Ph (for 10% dilute solution) 4.5 – 5.0
7. Acidity 0.6 – 0.9%
8. Moisture 65 – 70%

The European Economic Community (EEC) countries constitute a major market for Indian Spices. Most EEC Countries import spices in accordance with prevailing food laws. The Netherlands have specifications for various quality parameters of spices. Germany has prescribed tolerance levels for pesticide residues. The German specifications are supposed to be the most stringent. The Dutch law also prescribes maximum residues for pesticides in spices. The food industry and spice processers in U.K. follow the limit for pesticides prescribed in the German specifications in the absence of U.K. Specifications. Conformance to the quality requirements of the buying countries, meeting the consumers’ expectations and ability to maintain price competitiveness are the key factors which determine our survival in the international market. Improved productivity and quality will enhance the farmer’s income and increase the country's foreign exchange earnings.

About Author / Additional Info:
Mohan Paramkusam,
Credit manager, Axis Bank, Rajahmundry, India