Cesena (March 2nd 2022) – Spices & Herbs Global Expo: spotlight on Spices, Officinal herbs and Aromatic herbs. This is the latest addition to Macfrut 2022 (4-6 May, Rimini Expo Centre), a unique event in Europe as far as exhibitions are concerned: in fact, for the first time ever, an Expo will be dedicated to product categories that are of significant interest to the global market. It will be part of the Macfrut trade fair and will feature an exhibition area hosting operators from all over the world, business meetings with international buyers, technical workshops with experts in the field, and show cooking sessions focusing on products that are increasingly appreciated by consumers.
A highly dynamic sector: the numbers
It will all revolve around an extremely dynamic sector, i.e. the global spice market, which is worth between $18-20 billion, with an estimated annual growth rate of approximately 4-5%. The production of spices has also been growing steadily: over the last few years, it has exceeded 13 million tonnes and is expected to reach 18 million tonnes by 2030. On top of this, the market for officinal and aromatic herbs, which is of considerable interest, accounts for about 7,300 hectares of cultivated land in Italy, with 500 well-established specialist companies. Italy produces about 4,000 tonnes of officinal plants (excluding coriander) and 350 tonnes of essential oils, mostly made from citrus fruits (bergamot). It also imports at least 40,000 tonnes of officinal plants and by-products obtained through primary processing, and exports about 26,000 tonnes in total, most of which have added value. The estimated production value of this sector is approximately €235 million, referring only to processed raw materials. If we add to this the export of value-added by-products, the total can reach €1 billion (Source: Fippo).
Spices & Herbs Global Expo
Basically, it is a new pavilion entirely dedicated to the world of spices, officinal herbs and aromatic herbs, which will serve as a global meeting point for producers, specialists, researchers, traders and processors, with a supply chain approach, which is what Macfrut specialises in.
The Expo will consist of two areas. The first area will be dedicated to Spices and will be set up at Macfrut in partnership with Cannamela, a leader in this market. The second area will be dedicated to officinal and aromatic herbs, set up in partnership with Fippo (Federazione Italiana Produttori Piante Officinali, i.e. the Italian Federation of Medicinal Plant Producers) and the magazine Erboristeria Domani. This sector encompasses a wide and diverse range of plant species, rich in biologically active principles, including medicinal plants, superfoods, aromatic plants and plants used for perfumes. This growing segment is showing great prospects, also for Italy, due to the fact that these products can be used for many different purposes.
The spice market
Talking about spices means talking about the history of the world, and the history of spices goes hand in hand with the history of global trade. The popularity of spices goes back further than recorded history: in fact, it dates back to more than 7,000 years ago. It is also a well-known fact that the history of the greatest geographical discoveries started with the search for a sea route to India, the so-called “spice trade”.
With regard to trade, a similar thing is happening now too: spices are constantly traded by many countries and via different routes, with substantial implications – also in terms of profits. Although there are many different types of spices, their exact number is not known: some say that there are a few dozen and others a few hundred, and the same goes for the botanical varieties of certain spices (for instance, it is said that there are several dozen types of pepper and several hundred, or even several thousand, types of chilli pepper).
Today, spices generate sales of approximately $18-20 billion worldwide, with an estimated annual growth rate of approximately 4-5%.
This age-old culture has contributed and is still contributing to the development of considerable knowledge of processing technologies and insights into the agronomic supply chain, which are the natural evolution of this sector and pave the way for new opportunities for all those involved.
Macfrut – Cannamela partnership
Not coincidentally, the partnership between Macfrut and Cannamela is aimed at bringing together international and Italian professionals so that they can also discuss these topics and open up new market opportunities.
In fact, Cannamela has been synonymous with Spices and Aromatic herbs since 1956, with a specific focus on monitoring the supply chain, starting with the purchase of raw materials, which are sourced directly from the countries that produce them, selecting the best crops from all around the world. This has been possible thanks to longstanding partnerships with small and medium-sized producers, with the aim to jointly implement a sustainable development project.
Speaking of which, sustainability will be the focus of a number of special initiatives to be hosted by Cannamela during the Expo: from organic crops to Italian produce, as well as social responsibility, which are all themes that Cannamela has been promoting over the years through its special lines Bionatura, Regionali Bio and Fair Trade Bio. These lines will be the main focus of a thematic show cooking event centred on “Green Cuisine”.
Cannamela will also give a technical talk during which the company’s experts will explain the distinctive features of this market and, in particular, the importance of traceability in the supply chain, all the more so when approaching these new segments, which have their own special features.
The officinal and aromatic herbs sector
Another large area will be dedicated to aromatic and officinal herbs, which will be set up in partnership with Fippo (Federazione Italiana Produttori Piante Officinali, i.e. the Italian Federation of Medicinal Plant Producers) and the magazine Erboristeria Domani. For hundreds of years, people have used medicinal and aromatic plants and spices for their well-being. More than 35,000 species have been found to contain active ingredients that are highly versatile and useful to humans. About one-third of the world’s population uses these plants for medical purposes: not only for clinical and therapeutic purposes, but also for prevention. They are biodiversity assets, which are essential if we are to meet the major challenges that lie ahead and that humanity must face, which include reducing the environmental impact, climate change and the transition to a sustainable economy.
In this scenario, Italy stands out for its longstanding herbal tradition, which is the result of the plant species biodiversity of this country, with its many different regions and cultural traditions. Thanks to this culture, which is still very much alive, a wealth of scientific knowledge has been handed down over the years, paving the way for new businesses that have become globally renowned for setting the standard for excellence when it comes to quality and innovation. This sector has boomed thanks to the growth of specialised trade: Italian herbalist shops are still a unique example in Europe, with more than 4,000 retail outlets, employing a new generation of expert herbalists who have a degree in Pharmacy. The estimated value of this sales channel is about €1 billion.
Over the years, this sector has evolved from being mainly based on trade – import in particular – to a complex supply chain covering all stages, from cultivation through to processing, as well as the creation of added value in the production of food supplements, natural cosmetics and pharmaceutical derivatives. New opportunities are now available for this supply chain thanks to the renewed regulatory framework introduced by Legislative Decree 75/18 (the previous regulations dated back to the 1930s), which recognises and supports the cultivation of officinal plants as an agricultural activity.
Nowadays, this sector is faced with the challenge of breaking out of the “niche market” and becoming more actively involved in forging a new pact with nature.