Business & Finance: Condiment Crises

Traditionally inseparable are salt and pepper.* All laymen recognize their union, their happy partnership. Few laymen realize their fundamental differences. Salt is a mineral; pepper a vegetable. Salt is a domestic product; all black pepper is imported.

Last week, specialists in the salt and pepper markets noted a more acute, immediate difference. The price of salt goes steadily down. (TIME, Sept. 17.) But the price of pepper is soaring, rocketlike, to record heights.

Pepper, a seed, is picked from a 40-foot vine, growing up the trunk of a tree, or around a low hut. There are two seasons, two sources. From Telok Belong...