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Spice trade developed throughout Asia and the Middle East in around 2000 BCE. Its contribution to world civilization is well recognized, as it established and destroyed empires, led to the discovery of new continents, and in many ways helped lay the foundation for the modern world. Spices have lost the status and allure that once placed them alongside precious metals as the world’s most valuable items, but the spice sector remains dynamic.

Out of the almost 400 products of the herbs and spices category, about 40 to 50 are of global economic and culinary importance. Global consumption of spices is expanding steadily with growth rates of between 2% and 5% per annum. Globalization, access to information, growing population, shifting consumer trends towards health and authenticity in developed economies, sustained economic growth in developing economies and increased consumption of meat in developing countries (the “march of the meat eaters”) have resulted in a growing spices market.

Asian-Pacific and European consumers are the largest consumers of spice, and the global market for spices is projected to exceed US$16 billion by 2019. The market for spices in developed economies such as Europe and North America will continue to grow, but more slowly than in other regions due to maturity of the industrial sector. The Asia-Pacific region is projected to be the fastest-growing market for spices, at an annual growth rate of 8% from 2014 to 2019. The food processing industry in Asia will be an important driver behind this growth.