Special Report: Popularity of Ethnic Cuisine and Health Benefits Mean Stellar Year for Spices

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17 Jan 2017 --- Consumer demand for different tastes and ethnic cuisine is fuelling the popularity of spices and 2017 is expected to be a stellar year, with both established and newer spices set to drive consumer demand. Meanwhile, experts are predicting further consolidation in the industry, following spice giant McCormick’s recent flurry of activity in the market.

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst Gary Augustine, executive director, market development at US spices and herbs company Kalsec, said: “If you look at spices and herbs, the power of them continues to be strong globally.”

“You’ve got the world becoming smaller based on technology and you’ve got the opportunity for consumers to experience a variety of ethnic combinations. And the consumer, particularly the younger, have a penchant for trying new flavor profiles in spices and herbs.”

A number of major food trends will have an impact on the spice industry in 2017: be it the major macro-trend of the move to customised, health-conscious eating with plant-based products; an increasing focus on reducing food waste; increasing demand from consumers for clean-labeling and removal of synthetic ingredients; and perhaps most significantly an increase in awareness of authentic local flavors.

Experts believe that ethnic flavors and spices will be a key food trend in 2017, particularly as a hunger for hot spices is being fuelled by consumers wanting to taste different cuisines amid increasing globalization and where foreign travel is becoming the norm for many people.

Established spices such as cinnamon and ginger are expected to be popular in 2017 along with a raft of upstart hot spices, such as harissa, a North African hot chili paste or powder; peri peri, the South African hot sauce made with bird’s eyes chillies; ras el hanout, a spicy and floral Moroccan blend of more than a dozen spices; and shichimi, a Japanese mixture made with ground chilies, tangerine peel and flakes of nori, or dried seaweed.

Established meals such as curries are also driving consumer spending on spices, particularly in the US, points out Augustine (pictured, right). Click to Enlarge

This is twinned with the popularity of more exotic spice-driven dishes such as Persian minestrone soups; espelette pepper-rubbed steak a la plancha  and Mediterranean vegetable shakshuka which boasts a savory Middle Eastern spice blend of smoked paprika, cumin, pepper, cayenne, turmeric & caraway.

As in the previous few years, turmeric, heralded for its anti-inflammatory properties, will continue to be popular. 

Most often found in curries, turmeric also has a number of different uses in the kitchen, including mixed into roasted vegetables, stirred into scrambled eggs or mixed into smoothies.

Augustine addresses the likelihood that hot peppers such as jalapeño, cayenne and habanero will continue to be popular in 2017.

Spice mixture baharat used in middle eastern cuisine is said to be one to watch in 2017.

“Discover a new all-purpose seasoning – Baharat. It’s a fragrant, Eastern Mediterranean blend of spices such as cumin, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg and more.  Sprinkle over warm, seasonal soups, stir into tomato-based sauces, or add to your favorite chicken dish,” said McCormick executive chef Kevan Vetter. 

According to research from Kalsec, 56 percent of consumers eat spicy foods at least once a week while one in four consumers are eating spicy foods more often then they did a year ago. 

The research also reveals that 70 percent of consumers choose hot/spicy options when dining out at restaurants while 62 percent of consumers prepare hot/spicy food when eating at home.

While there are centuries old stories of peppers and spices being beneficial in the treatment of diseases, new research adds substance to this theory.

A comprehensive new study, involving more than 16,000 Americans, found that consumption of hot red chili peppers is linked with a 13 percent reduction in total morality, primarily in deaths due to heart disease or stroke.

“Although the mechanism by which peppers could delay mortality is far from certain, Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, which are primary receptors for pungent agents such as capsaicin (the principal component in chili peppers), may in part be responsible for the observed relationship,” say the study authors.

“Because our study adds to the generalizability of previous findings, chili pepper - or even spicy food - consumption may become a dietary recommendation and/or fuel further research in the form of clinical trials,” according to the study.

Meanwhile, analysts are expecting further activity in the M&A market involving spice companies this year.

McCormick has been particularly busy with acquisitions in recent times; it followed its purchase of top Italian spice-maker Drogheria & Alimentari for $97 million this year with the $114m purchase of the Australian company behind the Gourmet Garden and the Italian flavorings firm Giotti for $127 million.

Experts believe the bigger food players- such as Unilever or General Mills-could make acquisitions in this area.

It seems with so many new and exotic dishes to try and increasing globalization, that the popularity of spices will continue in 2017.

And if further significant research is disclosed, adding to the theory that certain spices can offer health benefits, then this popularity will continue to increase.

by John Reynolds

Kalsec

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Our products, derived from natural herbs, spices, vegetables and hops, are translated into easy-to-use liquids ideal for most formulations. These are of the highest quality and consistency available. Kalsec® is the only company whose expertise and resources encompass a full line of natural, innovative products and solutions to meet the challenges faced by food and beverage manufacturers throughout the industry and around the world.

Kalsec® Southwest, located near Denver City, Texas, specializes in the cultivation, harvest, dehydration and extraction of paprika, rosemary and carrot, as well as specialty herbs and spices. At this location we also process a line of solvent-free expeller pressed extracts that are ideal for supporting your green and sustainability platform.

In 1995, we opened an office in the United Kingdom, now known as Kalsec® Europe (KEU). Kalsec® Europe has been providing local support to the European market, with sales, sampling, applications and warehousing capabilities. Located in Mildenhall, United Kingdom, KEU continues to grow to meet the needs of the European market.

In February 2010, we opened an office in Shanghai, China to serve our customers in the Asian market. Additionally, we have a network of agents as well as an applications laboratory in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to meet the growing demands of this emerging market.

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