Demand for ethnic flavors
 spices up category sales

Spice consumption is at an all-time high as consumers’ changing palates are craving more flavor. During the 1950s, Americans stocked less than 10 spices in their pantries. Today, the average American’s pantry includes up to 40 different and diverse spices, according to research from McCormick & Co.

The trend means strong sales in the spice category, which has grown 11% over the past five years, according to McCormick. Global flavors used in Mediterranean, Indian, Asian and African cuisines are driving the category. Spicy flavors have become very popular with consumers; McCormick research showed that sales of chipotle chile pepper increased 70% in five years. Sales of ancho chile pepper and wasabi also are heating up as consumers search for the next exciting flavors.

“Curry used to mean just one thing, but as consumers become more sophisticated, red and green curries are finding their way to foods in the [United States],” said Melissa Abbott, director of culinary insights at the Hartman Group. Abbott said that such new flavors as go chu jang, a Korean sweet chili sauce, and shiso, an Asian basil flavoring, are becoming popular.

With consumers looking to spices to provide health benefits, category sales could grow even stronger. Research from McCormick’s Science Institute showed that many spices and herbs contain antioxidant levels comparable to fruits and vegetables.

Scientific evidence is building around potential health-related benefits of spices and herbs. “We’re seeing a lot more interest in spices that have anti-inflammatory benefits, such as turmeric, and spices that have digestive benefits,” Abbott said.

Spice marketers like McCormick are positioning spices as “creative substitutes” to sodium and other “off-limit” ingredients. The company is making a point of reducing the sodium in many of its products by 30%.

McCormick also has developed a number of product and seasonal displays, such as a grilling display that can be used to promote its Grill Mates line, a brand that has had double-
digit increases for several years.


The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Spices/Seasonings Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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