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Spices: the ultimate convenience food?

A look at what's new and trending in spices

Spice sales in Canada are, ahem, heating up. According to figures from Euromonitor, sales of herbs and spices in Canada reached 284.8 million in 2012, up from 212.4 million five years earlier.

What's driving consumer interest in spices? Canadian Grocer spoke with Louise Kramer of the Specialty Food Association:

Canadian Grocer: What noteworthy trends do you see occurring within the spice category?

Louise Kramer: As part of a bigger picture, consumers are looking for new tastes and flavours. Spices can add unique flavours to even traditional dishes. They offer a way for home cooks to experiment and add interest and flair to their food. There are cuisines from around the world that come in and out of favour; if Thai food is becoming more popular in restaurants, home cooks will want to make it at home and will be looking for the appropriate spices. I see no slowing of this interest in experimenting with food. Consumers are also looking for convenience when they cook, and these flavour enhancers can easily add a little boost to a dish.

Are there particular spices–or types of spices–that are gaining in popularity?

It seems like anything hot and spicy is popular. We’re seeing interest in hot salsas, or a spicy rub for chicken. Ginger is also popular because it works well across several cuisines. We’re seeing a lot of interest in Indian cuisine. There are a lot of cooking sauces, spice mixes and spice rubs coming out with a whole range of Indian flavours.

Are there any other factors contributing to growth in the spice category?

People are looking for health benefits in the foods they eat and the ingredients they use, and spices such as cumin and turmeric have a healthy glow from their anti-inflammatory properties. Anything healthy that doesn’t take much work and isn’t too high-price is definitely of interest.

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