A spice could be a seed, root, bark or fruit of a plant that is used with the primary intent of flavouring and colouring food, and sometimes as a preservative. Spices sometimes have anti-microbial traits. For this reason, regions with warmer climates use spices in their food most commonly, as natural protection against diseases. Other uses of spices include the production of medicines, in religious rituals or in the manufacture of perfumes.
Pepper, cardamom, cumin seed, turmeric, and mustard seed are some of the most popular spices in the spice commodity market. Spices are an essential part of cooking in any cuisine, and especially true for food in the Indian subcontinent. The spices price in India depends primarily on the harvest. A variety of other factors also impact the spices price.
Demand for Indian Spices
From ancient times, India has attracted merchants from around the world who came looking for exotic spices. As is well known, Columbus was trying to reach India to get a hold of its rich spices when he accidentally discovered America. India contributes a major chunk to the world’s spice production and is a major contributor in the world spice trade now. Indian spices are also highly sought after because of their rich aroma and taste. The domestic market for spices in India is the largest in the world. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) enlists 109 types of spices, of which India grows and exports 75 varieties.
The spices that are most commonly exported by India are pepper, chilli, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, nutmeg, garlic and vanilla. A variety of processed spices like spice oils, mint products, spice powders, seasonings and curry powder are also exported. The major importers are the US, China, UAE, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
In India, spices are regularly boiled along with tea leaves to make a strong tea. Sometimes a concoction of spices is also boiled together to make a drink that is supposed to relieve the common cold. Spices have been used as a cure for various ailments since ancient times. Similarly, Ayurvedic medicine, as well as home remedies, make extensive use of spices in their recipes. The most common Indian dish, curry consists of meat or vegetables that are cooked with liberal amounts of spice. The spices used in these curries vary from region to region. The curry is an indispensable side dish in every meal. The spices used have more properties than just their flavour or colour. Spices are a rich source of minerals like iron, magnesium, and calcium, and other macronutrients.
The full extent of the medical benefits of spices is not yet known to us. It is known that certain spices can be used in the treatment of fever, malaria, nausea, stomach upset, and even cancer. Nutmeg is used to cure nausea, and clove is used to ease toothache. Turmeric is used to cure skin problems, and fennel seeds are used to treat eye problems. Turmeric and clove are also used to reduce blood sugar levels.
The spices price depends on various factors like demand and supply, the rate of exports and prices in the international and domestic market. The level of local and international demand and the promise of the new harvest also influence the spices price today. As with other crop commodities, weather conditions are a crucial factor that determines the spices price in India.