India: Spicing Up The World With Clean, Sustainable Products
By Munish Minocha, Senior Vice President, Olam Spices
The world has always loved Indian spices, with India currently being the largest producer and exporter of spices accounting for US$6 billion annually, half of the global market.
The key trends in the global spices industry are clearly evident within India’s spice industry.
Food safety is of utmost importance as safety norms and pesticide and allergen requirements remain the top priority for buyers. Branding around sustainability, traceability and organic produce continues to gather steam among consumers. Purchasing habits are shifting towards a preference for branded, processed and pre-packed products and away from buying loose or in wholes. Consumers are also becoming more discerning in their selection of spices where taste, colour, heat, ethnic flavours and clean natural labels now matter much more than ever before.
In line with these shifts in consumption habits and preferences, and as a global supply chain manager with a purpose of growing profitably and responsibly, our focus in India has been on developing origination, processing capabilities and exports of traceable, sustainably sourced ground spices to major markets in Asia, Europe and USA.
Clean label, sustainability focused
In India, we participate in five major spices – chilli, cumin, black pepper, turmeric and curry powder. Collectively these spices account for about 70% of India’s spice exports. Chilli is the largest segment in volume terms, followed by cumin, turmeric, pepper and curry powder.
Our acquisition of the bulk spices assets and businesses of Vallabhdas Kanji Limited (VKL) in 2011 set the stage for our current participation in India. The assets acquired included VKL’s spice processing facility in Cochin and its sales and distribution operations in North America. With these assets, we now process and offer a range of value-added spices, including heat treated, dehydrated and naturally steam sterilised spices, and blends in various forms which are customised to the needs of industrial customers across the USA and Europe.
The transaction catalysed our entry into new, attractive product segments, particularly red chilli and turmeric, and we have further invested in improving the infrastructure and testing capabilities of these assets. Our testing lab in Kochi tests 100% of our products before they leave our factories for the port. It also provides analysis for the establishment of proprietary processes, such as those for reducing pathogens. These elements contribute to the clean label objective.
Demand for safe, clean and sustainable products is the key reason for our Sustainable Spices Programmes in India, which centre...