From the dawn of time, spices have always been used when preparing food. First as a means of preservation and also to obscure the taste of rotten food and later on to enhance flavors and improve taste.
The trading of spices has therefore always been a very lucrative business. In the past, explorers were sent long distances by sea to discover and bring back exquisite spices from around the globe. Sometimes they would colonize these countries to reap the natural rewards within. New faster clipper ships were built to conquer the dangerous seas and bring back their bounty faster and cheaper. Many of the spices were prohibitively expensive and would often be used as a symbol of wealth, gracing the tables of the richest people.
Let’s spice it up with some numbers
The opening up of the modern world through faster and more reliable means of shipping goods and better agricultural methods had a tremendous effect on the spice market worldwide.
The spice trade grew a massive 23.2% between 2019 and 2020 from $2.93 billion to $3.61 billion. Spices are exported from many countries around the world, with main players such as China ($955m), India ($530m), Netherlands ($242m), Germany ($144m) and Turkey ($131). It is expected that these figures will slowly adjust as more countries start building greenhouses that will allow them to grow spices that are not native to their climate.
When it comes to importing spices it mainly depends on the local cuisine preferences and their agriculture ability concerning what they can grow internally. The top importers of spices in 2020 were the United States ($406m), Netherlands ($248m), Germany ($201m), Malaysia ($181m) and Saudi Arabia ($165m).
The import tariff on spices is relatively low and stood at an average of 11.2% (in 2018).
It seems that as home cooks, professional chefs and food manufacturers become more and more aware of the possibilities and interested in creating dishes from around the world, the trading of spices will only increase. As they do, more and more quality spice companies such as Nave HaTavlin based in Israel will pick up the baton to provide top quality, fresh spices at a competitive price.