Thursday, September 16, 2010


Is it the influence of the emigrating Indians or the increasing intrusion of Mexican foods, that is responsible for the wide spread use of spices in a country like the United States? Indian presence is so ubiquitous now that there are Governors in some states and many elected representatives in some of the local, state and federal legislatures hailing from India and naturally the cultural practices of this country are bound to be disseminated and imbibed by the Americans, though the process may be very slow. Added to this there are thousands of Indian restaurants serving Indian foods to a wide clientèle, further popularizing Indian foods. The "hot" Mexican foods promoted largely by Taco Bell and Chipotle chain restaurants, have carved out a niche for them selves and no wonder spice consumption is soaring in the US. High quality spice powders and blends exported by companies boasting of ISO, HACCP and SAP systems naturally boosted the confidence about the safety of spices amongst American consumers. Though McCormick may not admit its Indian connections, it is a fact that a major part of its raw materials is procured from India. Recent collaboration with Eastern Condiments in India is obviously intended to meet the increasing demand for spices in that country.

McCormick estimates in the '50s the average American spice drawer had 10 spices. Today the number's grown to 40. "People consume almost a billion pounds of spices a year," McCormick's Lori Robinson said. Twenty-five years ago it was half that. Spice experts say it's the melting pot that's producing spicier meals. As the country becomes more diverse, tastes change. "The cayennes and habanero sauces and spices, the things that really burn their mouth," said Alfonso Rivera, manager of El Centro Restaurant in New York City. Meals that used to be seasoned with salt and pepper now include everything from allspice to za'atar. During a five-year period, the amount of paprika imported into the United States rose from roughly 27 million pounds per year to almost 55 million pounds. Ginger has gone from 62 million pounds to almost 94 million pounds"..

Advent of oleoresins manufactured from a variety of spices has opened up new applications in processed meat products and Super Critical Fluid Extraction technology ensures that almost 100% of the culinary properties of raw spices is captured without any modification. Unlike spice powders, oleoresin emulsions enable the industry to have precision in recipe development and manufacturing with sustainable uniformity. Another reason for the spice portfolio becoming a main stream kitchen fixture is because of their health promoting value with spices and condiments like Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon etc becoming proven health protective ingredients. It may be prudent for a country like India to be eternally vigilant to protect its market through strict safety monitoring and stringent export regime.

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