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Demand and supply for spices, seasoning, flavours as restaurants hit
Thursday, 15 October, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Chef Mujeeb ur Rehman
As known, the pandemic has changed the entire world, badly affected us all financially, physically, socially and mentally and would take not less than at least 3-4 years to normalise, eventually taken the growth on a minus scale by 3-4 years back. On the other hand, we have to turn around towards the new normal in order to move ahead depicting an absolute change in lifestyle, business, and manner of leisure, manufacturing & demand – supply of every trade array.

Restaurants & eateries being closed has severely affected the spice market but the effect might be seen only after at least 2 months after the lockdown had started as usually restaurants stock up raw material including spices, the loss had to be surpassed by the restaurants at the end.

As the lockdown round the country was imposed all of a sudden & precautious being extended back to back, nobody was aware of such an uncertain & fearful effect & aftereffect on business because of the pandemic other then the health hazards it carries. Raw materials stocked in kitchens like seasonings, spices, herbs, flavours, syrups, pulses, lintels, white flour products and many tinned products were completely spoiled,

Also as due to no sale in the market, the longevity of spices at the factories has been downgraded, especially, those spices that are prone to be dried very quickly or easy to catch fungus & bacteria due to the extended lockdowns may have been lost in bulk and also as no manpower to transport, the loss was extreme & have ended up traders to shuffle the pricing like the tonnes of cardamom & pepper plantation are yet to be harvested, the delay because of no labour available over the months.

States of South India is one of the major producers of spices, already due to the floods in Kerala and other states of south India last year, major spices at least of a year distributions were destroyed because of which the prices had hiked, like green cardamom, priced 3-4 times higher compared to earlier along with other essential spices rates increasing. The situation of Covid has made it worst from being bad already as demand for tourism, hotels, restaurants, eatery, celebrations and parties dipped by more than 60%-70%.  

But one way keeping the motion on for spice trade over the recent times is the operations of cloud kitchens, market has jumped very high in demand for all these spices, seasonings and eating raw material for deliveries kitchens.

Also as advisable for having intake of spicy food, specially turmeric, pepper corn, green cardamom and cinnamon due it health benefits and medical values, slight equilibrium in between supply and demand could be expected.

On the other side, also the spices available in spite of paying high prices are lacking quality, as stocks were held for 6 months now since the year’s start, quality of spices available are inferior. We have no option as essential spices cannot be skipped in any manner, henceforth we have to adjust somewhere for this. As a chef representing the royal cuisines of India, its more than compulsory to maintain the aroma, flavour, textures of spices to get that perfect end-result of the recipe, especially for curries & kebabs apart from the best taste, the color and texture are highly monitored. Hopefully the new crops that arrive in the market over the time could evade the low mark for the spices quality.

For a solution to avoid complaint and under-par experience of guest, we have to standardise our recipes, changing the measures of spices & other ingredients ensuring an intactful taste of the recipe.

Demand for all spices in totality is not low, like turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, all those spices whose benefits are noticed & hyped to end-users are experiencing high demands, but many spices like chaat masala, chili, coriander had gone devastated low in demand.

Spices trade apart from internal backlash has also been affected on international trade due to closed borders because of the pandemic. Especially, for a country like India, being of the major suppliers of spices on international scale.

Spices supply chain will take time to become normal in old volume, being directly related to food and consumption.

Speaking about the work culture of youth, taking short breaks, having snacks at office, corporate meals and so on were even a contribution to food sector, henceforth to the spice market, but nowadays & for the next few months time, it seems people are getting habitual to work from home and e-meeting each other & least socialising, this will certainly be an effect to the topic.

 (The author is a celebrity & roaming chef , Restaurant consultant serving globally)
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