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MARKET REPORT.
ISSUE:
Page:
40
Spices: Several interesting situations are developing in the spice market. Prime among these is the severe spot shortage of many commodities in the New York market, due to political upheavals, bad weather, and general pessimism about prices among dealers and traders worldwide. This would have been a very good year for contrarians; those commodities which showed the least promise (and generated the most short-selling) a few months ago have risen the farthest and fastest. Notable are Cumin Seed, Oregano, White Pepper, Cassia, and Savory. These items have in common only the general feeling a while ago that they would remain incredibly cheap for at least another year. Many other items remain bargains for the moment, but surely what goes up must come down and vice versa. Certainly, weather conditions (like the drought in Indonesia) and political problems (like the civil war in Yugoslavia) continually influence commodity markets, but often, market movements seem to take on a life of t heir own with prices rising or falling much farther than logic would dictate. All in all, this will he an interesting season in spices.

Botanicals: With Eastern Europe in turmoil it is not surprising that botanical prices have risen quickly as availability (and the very viability of the exporting countries) is in serious question. Today's news carried a story of the Yugoslavian (Serb-controlled) federal navy mounting a complete blockade of Croatian ports and the continuing shelling of the lovely medieval city of Dubrovnik. It is difficult to envision a peaceful end to this conflict and the resumption of normal trade and shipping anytime soon. In addition, those formerly Communist countries that are attempting to convert to a capitalist economy have had some price shocks that make any U.S. inflation look piddling by comparison. As prices are allowed to float freely (or, at least, more freely) prices of commodities have risen to "normal" (i.e., unsubsidized) levels. This definitely means higher prices on the horizon for U.S. buyers of almost all European botanicals for the foreseeable future (like forever). Potpourri Ingredients: A major resurgence of demand in this market has led to many spot shortages and some price increases during the summer/fall packing season. Manufacturers who had apparently anticipated somewhat slack sales were left (again!) scrambling for scarce ingredients. This industry has certainly seen some ups and downs in its short history and the lack of continuity makes planning and purchasing problematic. Everyone hopes for a good retail Christmas season (with no huge retailing bankruptcies) this year and lots of carry-through in demand into spring. Domestic Botanicals: Insiders note that supplies of domestic Pleurisy Root is short. The demand for Goldenseal Root is steady, though as supplies stay level or just a little under last year, there is no reason for paranoia. Goldenseal's cost is about 10% higher over last year. Echinacea angustifolia and E. pallida demand is up. "Demand is real hot for anything Echinacea," noted one source. "Echinacea is getting more recognition and demand keeps going up." Experts differ in opinion on whether native stands of Echinacea angustifolia are being depleted. "We're still producing Echinacea in the same places as we did 30 years ago," says a leading Midwest collector. "Prices are going up and will continue to climb. This increased price will bring in new pickers and increased supply." Article copyright American Botanical Council.