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Global Politics Affect Botanical Markets.
ISSUE:
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11
Rising ethnic tensions is having an adverse on on Eastern European botanicals. The situation in the Balkans continues to worsen, wreaking havoc on world markets.

Spices: An interesting year for traders; market movements have been large and rapid. While some markets like Pepper continue low and dull due to major overprotection other markets like Cumin Seed have gone up and down -- an up again. There have been supply problems from Chum due, to bad weather during their growing season and Chinese items like Ginger, Cassia, and Star Anise are almost unavailable here. What little is in stock is traded at very high prices. The political situation in Eastern Europe has been largely responsible for shortages of Sage from Yugoslavia (or Croatia or Bosnia or whatever countries exist as of 11:40 a.m. today) but market manipulation from dealers in Germany and France have somewhat contributed to this already severe short-age. It is hoped that this unfortunate country manages to come to sane arrangement among its many ethnic groups while anyone is still alive.

Tropical spices like Nutmeg, Mace, and the above-mentioned Pepper remain at historically cheap prices for the moment. In fact, it has been suggested that the best investment of the year may be a warehouse full of Black Pepper in light of the amazingly low price, the low rates, the availability of cheap real estate and the fact that this commodity will surely double in price in the foreseeable future. What else is out there that can promise this kind of return with so little risk?

Botanicals: The tragic situation in Eastern Europe where many imported botanicals originate makes comment on these markets problematic. The supply situation remains precarious: some items are available but whether ships will call to pick up containers is never certain. New crop offers are very slow in coming. Many places are under siege and without electricity. In countries other than Yugoslavia the economic and political situations contribute to uncertainty about collection of wild crops and the entities that will be involved in actually baling, transporting, exporting, and selling these cottage-industry items. At least communism forced organizational structure (however bloated and inefficient) on these countries. Certainly the people will eventually be better off, but many problems loom on the horizon. Coverage of any and all botanicals is strongly recommended as soon as possible.

Potpourri Items: These markets continue strong with good demand from U.S. manufacturers. Prices for most items except the almost unavailable Eastern European ones like Blue Malva, Calcatrippae, etc., are very attractive. Indian and Pakistani Rosebuds are extremely cheap as are Globe Amaranth, Flowers and Kern from India. Competition for market share among producing countries and exporters has created a very advantageous situation for potpourri manufacturers this year as good quality merchandise flows into this market from around the world.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.

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By Peter Landes