Spices have played a key role in most traditional gastronomy for centuries, leading the development of commercial wars over hundreds of years. The spices and exotics categories that sell in the highest volumes today include chilli, pepper, cardamom, vanilla, saffron, cloves, ginger and honey. Currently, there are several trends that are leading growth in this sector: emerging growers such as Brazil and Vietnam; consumption trends combining spicy flavours and health; the economic and population growth India, which has been the largest grower for many categories for centuries, turning it into a colossal importer that in turn leads many price trends.
Key facts about the global spices and exotics market
- Vietnam and Brazil have gained substantial market share in the pepper market in last decade to become the largest exporters, leading current low prices due to huge carry-over stocks.
- Guatemala is the main cardamom exporter, with Middle Eastern countries and India being the main importers.
- Price fluctuations in the vanilla market are led by weather in Madagascar and a lack of modernisation of its industry.
- Saffron is very scarce, as Iran is the main grower and is suffering strong commercial restrictions due to geopolitical conflict with the US.
- The industry is controlled by traders, mainly in the US and Central Europe, many of them specialised in specific products. Major players include Olam International, Catz International and Sabater Spices.