Spice sales led by multicultural influences, healthier eating, travel and more sophisticated palates.
Originally published in the weekly e-newsletter, Facts, Figures & the Future.
Global warming is on the tip of our tongues – when stoked by spices and seasonings. They add zesty tastes and healthful ingredients to meals at home in a few quick shakes – no scratch-cooking necessary.
People are curious about what their neighbors eat, especially their multicultural neighbors. Also, the lofty pace of general market travel abroad (thank you, strong dollar) exposes millions to global cuisines that many want to replicate at home. These trends drive mainstream demand for different tastes among general market consumers.
This desire should accelerate, says Facts, Figures & The Future (F3). The U.S. already has more than 120 million Hispanics, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and other groups growing by 2.3 million per year, Nielsen reports, and these young cohorts already comprise 38% of the nation’s populace. They are today’s fastest-growing segments, forecast by Census to be in the majority by the year 2044.
Innovative flavor combinations enliven more eating at home since the recession. Continued demand shows in annual unit and dollar sales rises for the “herb and spice seasonings” category the past three years, according to Nielsen all U.S. outlets data, including convenience stores, with the most recent period ended March 28, 2015. Successive unit sales gains of 2.3%, 2.3% and 2.9% drove dollar sales gains of 6.2%, 3.9% and 3.4% to $3.04 billion.
“Spices” is the largest segment at $877.1 million, up 3.5% in dollar sales in the latest 12 months, following growth of 6.4% and 4.9% in the two prior running twelve-month periods.
“Seasoned blends” is the #2 segment at $651.8 million, up 5.4% in dollar sales in the latest 12 months, following gains of 3.1% and 3.5% in the two prior running twelve-month periods.
“Garlic products” is the #3 segment at $417.6 million, up 3.3% in dollar sales in the latest 12 months, following advances of 6.9% and 4.8% in the two prior running twelve-month periods.
“Pepper” is the #4 segment at $337.4 million, up 2.6% in dollar sales, following rises of 11.0% and 2.0% in the two prior running twelve-month periods.
“Herbs” is the fifth segment at $274.0 million, up 4.6% in dollar sales, following growth of 5.8% and 4.7% in the two prior running twelve-month periods.
Spices are a simple way to add desired tastes, even for time-pressed, convenient meal seekers with little time or talent to prep. The past four years of findings from the yearly SupermarketGuru-National Grocers Association Consumer Survey Report show only a slight majority of U.S. adults feel “confident in the kitchen"; the 2015 figure is 57.6%. But more than one-third (37.7%) do “like to experiment” and one-quarter (24.2%) can “follow simple recipes.” These behaviors seem suited for spices and seasonings.
The new development of U.S.-Cuba relations should spark curiosity for the island’s cuisine and steer traffic to Cuban restaurants, which could inspire more demand for these tastes at home.
Meanwhile, supermarkets could look to next week’s Cinco de Mayo festivities as a kick off to a spicy grilling season. The McCormick.com website suggests dozens of choices, among them: Mojito Lime Striped Bass, Grilled Vegetable Antipasto Bruschetta, and the Vietnamese Banh Mi Burger with Srirachi Mayo. Health tips using spices are part of its Flavor MyPlate program.