The Nation

Quest for a bigger share in global spices markets

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Spices constitute an important group of commodities which are indispensable in homes and industries. The market is on an upward trend. Grand View Research report says global seasoning and spices market was worth $13.77 billion last year. Analysts expect the market to reach $20.99 billion by 2024. While there are no confidence figures on Nigeria’ national production, stakeholders believe the nation can make $2 billion yearly from spices exports, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

The global spices industry has shown robust growth. It was worth $13.77 billion last year, according to this year’s Global Seasoning and Spices report by United States  Grand View Research.

The major spices in demand are pepper, ginger, turmeric, vanilla, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and spice oils. They are used in food preparation and processing.

Analysts said increased demand for new flavours and tastes has fuelled the growth of seasoning and spices market. Today, most expensive spices sell for as much as $1,000. The major markets are United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Australia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), among others.

While Nigeria can produce key spices in the international market, stakeholders are not impressed with the foreign exchange from the sector considering its unmatched quality of spices that should make the nation stand tall in the international market.

One of them is the Director-General, Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Prof Haruna Dikko Ibrahim, who has not hidden his concerns. Nigeria produces pepper, chili, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg and mace, cardamon, and cloves, among others.

To him, the industry can generate about $2 billion yearly. Therefore, all endeavours should focus on promoting skills development for spices farmers and access to finance.

The President, Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria ((FACAN), Dr. Victor Iyama, sees spices farming and exports as an ambitious endeavour that can transform the economy and open new frontiers and position Nigeria as a force to be reckoned with in the global food economy.

He said Nigeria should occupy an indispensable spot in the global spice trade. Like other agro commodities, Iyama noted that the challenge was failure of producers to comply with quality standards.

He has no doubts about the possibility of growing more types of spices in Nigeria because of tropical or sub-tropical climates.

For instance, dried chili peppers, onion and garlic are grown in most parts of Nigeria.

 

Opening high-end markets

Nigeria’s combined supply of various spices is less than one percent of global trade. While the spices sector constitutes a significant percentage of world trade, Nigeria has not earned much from spices because Nigerians only export to relations in the diaspora.

However, there is huge evidence of the sector in Nigeria increasing production and export gains. This, according to the Managing Director, AgroPark Development Company Limited, Sola Olunowo, can be made possible by first taking a keen look at how these gains could be achieved.

Seeking solutions to why Nigeria is not making it in the global spices market, Olunowo decided to attend a global fruit and vegetable conference where spices dominated discussions. He described the event as a game-changing event.

He found out that why Nigerians were not able to export spices to corporate buyers. He said it was because they had not been able to present some certifications, including the GLOBAL G.A.P.

Meeting these requirements, according to him, ensures traceability required by international buyers. He noted that despite the industry’s relative economic drop, local farmers are still well placed to do better from the trade.

He cited the nation’s natural weather and seasonal conditions as beneficial for high quality spices produce. He added that improved practices by growers, including in cultivation, harvesting, handling and storage, could make a big difference.

According to him, organic spices are gaining tremendous demand in international market, since they are considered natural and safe for consumption. But for the impact of COVID-19, he said they were receiving various enquires from importers to procure organic spices. He said what the industry needed were schemes to promote farmers to produce clean and good quality spices, and for exporters to set up small units for processing and value addition to spices.

Olunowo is successful in spices farming and exports. He developed many techniques in spices farming by which he not only makes profit but people around him are also utilising the techniques and gaining profits.

He found the best deals for growing and exporting lemongrass – supplying food and beverage industry.

According to him, lemongrass is used in many industries, including the fragrance and flavour, food and beverage, soap, detergent and cleaning products manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and pesticide.

He said farmers could make a lot of money from lemongrass farming and other spices.

According to him, spices from Nigeria are in great demand in the market, urging the government to take active and keen interest to facilitate trade, and ensure the economy benefitted from the sector.

Olunowo wants all preconditions met to enable Nigeria to produce efficiently and compete regionally and globally.

The Coordinator, Agribusiness & Youth Empowerment, Community of Agricultural Stakeholders of Nigeria, Sotonye Anya, said there is a huge market for seasonings, spices and herbs running into billions of naira yearly.

He called on Nigerian ginger, turmeric, and garlic growers to tap into the $13.7 billion global spices and seasoning market to avail themselves of opportunities in the sub-sector.

Sotonye noted that Nigeria ought to be one of the world’s leading spices exporter, attributing its current status to unsustainable practices, despite that the soil is rich to make it an abundant producer.

Nigeria, according to him, faces challenges in the global spices trade, including low-quality packaging and low prices.

Value-added spices and herbs

Right now, there is a large international market for value-added spices and herbs crushed or mixed, said Sotonye.

As an exporter, he said it would be good to send them in crushed or ground form.

The Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) that contributes to sustainable and inclusive economic development in developing countries through the expansion of exports said Europe is open for spices.

It said Europe is open for crushed or ground spices such as pepper, capsicum, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamoms, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and ginger.

The most important food safety management systems in Europe are the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the International Featured Standards (IFS Food), Food Safety System Certification (FSSC22000) and the Safe Quality Food Programme (SQF).

Sotonye said traceability, hygiene and control were critical when exporting spices to Europe, as EU sets maximum levels for mycotoxins for specific spices.

Before investing in agri-commodities or the spices pack, he advised investors to have sufficient knowledge about the demand-supply situation, climatic condition and relevant policy actions.

A Consultant with Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Common Investment Market and Professor at Covenant University, Jonathan Aremu, said exportable spices must comply to be allowed in the European market.

He added that further processing of spices add value to the product.

 

Challenges

One of biggest challenges of developing countries involved in spices exports is the variation of standards across various countries.

Olunowo believes producers that have got GLOBAL G.A.P certification will be cleared because it covers good agricultural practices, such as pesticide residue, and contamination due to mycotoxins, among others.

To improve the production and exports of spices, there is the need  for the implementation of best practices at all the stages of the value chain that would help to enhance  export and improve the quality of spices in future, Olunowo said.

He said small farmers could benefit extensively from training to help them adopt new and innovative ways of presenting their produce at the international market.

 

Stakeholders’ response

The Managing Director, Lords Field, an agric survey company, Mr. Oloropo Olajugba, said uniform standards would help Nigeria improve trade in spices and this would require the use of technology. He said what Nigeria needed to make a success in spices farming and exports was the application of precision technology.

He explained that farmers could explore different technologies and farming practices to more accurately manage soil and growing conditions, eventually growing more spices while using fewer resources at lower cost.

With the technology, his organisation provides, Olajugba said farmers use the technology fitted to a tractor to carry out irrigation, soil and crop monitoring.

According to him, the solution enables data analyses on growing conditions, ideal harvest windows with the assistance of mobile technology.

 

Sourcing of spices

For big players, the key to high-quality spices is sourcing products from the right places. Some organisations would not want their spices rejected so they emphasise that the farmers meet five criteria: traceability, product quality, origination, food safety, and reliability.

The Vice- President, Corporate and Government Relationship, Olam, Ade Adefeko, said: “At Olam, with our experience spanning 31 years and with our footprint in over 60 countries, we take agricultural sustainability seriously by using our supply chain insights and data garnered to drive transformational change for our farmers, rural communities and the entire planet.

“We are the world’s number one source for garlic, onions and chillies and a global leader for pepper, tropical spices, purees and parsley and we use our At Source solution to ensure sustainable sourcing and  tracing which help to provide unrivalled environmental and social insights into the journey of agricultural raw materials and food ingredients from farm to shelf.’’

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