The recent outbreak of the coronavirus has greatly affected people’s behaviour. On the demand side, industry and consumers are buying more and more shelf-stable food, including spices and herbs. On the supply side, the largest producing countries are not able to export due to border closures.
India and China shape international sourcing
COVID-19 measures in China and India have affected international spice trade dynamics. India has completely closed its borders, making it impossible to export any product. The same thing has happened in Vietnam. China has experienced a sharp decline in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.
This situation has caused the prices of several spices to drop. For example, within a week, the price of Indian cardamom dropped by 50%, and the price of Vietnamese pepper decreased by about 10%. Importers think that there may be some panic buying going on and that the prices will increase when markets open again.
Consumer demand increasing
One of the first reactions across Europe was the fear of scarcity. People started to buy huge amounts of shelf‑stable food, including condiments and spices. Recently demand for spices used for baking surged. This includes mixed spices and sweet spices, such as cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg.
Also, spices thought to be immune boosters, such as turmeric, ginger and garlic, are in strong demand. Despite higher retail prices for these spices, buying did not slow down. According to industry sources, the demand for turmeric and ginger for food supplements increased by 300%. The Indian government recently decided to invest in private-public partnerships to increase the production of turmeric to meet the growing demand. This decision was made during the Indian border lockdown.