Hot business28.02.2007 The Buhler Rice business unit does not only build rice mills, but also spice mills. Just recently, the new pepper mill operated by the national Pepper Marketing Board (PMB) went into service in Kuching in East Malaysia. Pepper is not simply pepper. Malaysian pepper is considered to be the best in the world. As sixth-largest pepper producer on a global scale, Malaysia’s annual dried pepper production amounts to about 20,000 metric tons. Of this, some 19,000 tons are exported under the Sarawak Pepper brand. Pepper upgrading and marketing is handled in Malaysia by the Pepper Marketing Board (PMB). This state-run institution was established in 1972. Its mission is to create a modern and competitive pepper industry.
In an initial step, PMB entrusted Buhler with the construction of three new pepper cleaning systems (dry and wet) with capacities up to two metric tons per hour. The two larger facilities in East Malaysia and the smaller one in West Malaysia went into operation in 1980. The start-up of the three installations brought PMB a first step closer to its goal of gaining self-sufficiency in the pepper export business.
In 2004, PMB ordered a new grinding and packaging system from Buhler, with the intention of making another step in the direction of generating added value. Dr. Jerip Susil, PMB chairman of the board, explains the objective: “With the new system, we want to increase the share of ground pepper that is exported. This will improve our access to the quality-conscious markets in the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K., and France. The new installation will enable us to produce pepper that satisfies the needs of these countries.” In 2005, PMB exported 209.7 metric tons of ground pepper. With the new plant in service, this volume is expected to rise to 500 tons.
The recently commissioned new pepper mill is located in Kuching in East Malaysia, where the PMB has its headquarters. The plant has a capacity of 500 kilograms of finished product per hour. The new, computer-controlled pepper mill was designed and constructed by the Buhler Rice business unit. Its equipment includes an MDDO eight-roller mill with water cooling, a DBZE mini roller mill, and two MPAQ small plansifters for grading the pepper into different particle sizes. The peripheral equipment includes a manual dump hopper and an MMUA magnetic separator for receiving the cleaned and sterilized raw pepper plus an aspiration system, storage bins with vibro-dischargers, and a bagging system. The grinding process is temperature-controlled in order to reduce the loss of volatile oil constituents.
Pepper grows on roughly two meter tall shrubs and is harvested by farmers using simple, manually operated drums. The drums are provided with scrapers which strip the green pepper off the stalks. The green peppercorns are dried in the sun until they are black. White pepper is obtained by steeping the bagged ripe peppercorns in a water bath during about ten days. This process, adopted a long time ago from the Dutch, reduces the hot taste of the pepper. In this condition, the hulls are easy to remove, which gives them their white appearance.