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MARKET REPORT: Spice Imports Increase.
The amount of spices and other flavoring materials rose by 7% in 1989, according to an article in Chemical Marketing Reporter (April 30, 1990). The increase is attributed to larger import volumes for capsicum (red pepper), the cinnamons, nutmeg, and mustard and sesame seed. Flavor materials made of spice oleoresins increased more than 10%, with paprika oleoresins up by 27%. However, U.S. spice group exports dropped by 8%, mainly due to a drop in the garlic and onion group.

Passion Flower: Supplies continue to be short due to increased demand coupled with a disappointing crop from central Florida. Central American sources continue to supply the herb as it becomes available.

Hibiscus: The market is very hot. No new crop is expected until November or December, and there is no 1989 crop left. Buyers will have to buy 1988 or 1987 crop, mostly available from China, which has been holding inventories of old crop since then. A great deal of this material will probably be poor quality. All of this is a function of low prices in recent years, making it unattractive for producers to grow.

Medicinals: Inventory is moving quickly with a strong market. Many of the botanicals which traditionally came from Eastern Europe will rise in price, possibly tripling or quadrupling due to the democratization movement. The restoration of decentralized economies is resulting in rising prices as the profit motive appears at every step of production and shipping. Examples include Red Clover, Burdock, Marshmallow, Artemisia, Buckthorn, Coltsfoot, Dandelion Root, Elder Berries and Flowers, Hawthorn Berries, Juniper Berries, Linden Flowers, Lovage Root, Nettles, Raspberry Leaf, Rue, Shepherd's Purse. By early summer prices have already reflected this trend and further increases are expected. There continues to be strong demand for other herbs with sedative and calming properties in the wake of the tryptophan problem as consumers turn to herbal remedies as substitutes. Consequently, demand for Hops, Valerian, and Scullcap remains strong. Spices: Nutmeg and Mace: Collapse in price with the collapse in the Indonesian marketing arrangement. Cassia: The Cassia marketing board has also bitten the dust due to smuggling and lack of control, but prices have not eased as much as expected. Black and White Pepper: Too much White Pepper being offered. Prices have plummeted and bottomed out; White Pepper is now available at the lowest prices in recent history since 1979, possibly the lowest prices since World War II. Potpourri: The market is moribund, which is not to say more abundant. The only thing more abundant is old inventory, and aged accounts delayable of the major importers. Since last year the market for potpourri items has dropped drastically. Some insiders speculate that the introduction of colored wood chips, corn cobs, and other similar cheap materials has adversely affected consumer buying patterns. Article copyright American Botanical Council. ~~~~~~~~ By Mark Blumenthal and Peter Landes