That dollar amount reflects a 15.7% gain from 2019 to 2020 and an 11.7% increase since 2016.
The top 5 spices exports by overall sales are crushed or ground peppercorn, spice mixtures, turmeric, pepper and saffron. Collectively, those exported spice commodities represent about fourth-fifths (79.4%) of spices sold on international markets.
In addition to total export sales, this article delves into which major spices are the biggest exports in terms of shipment weight as well as the most valuable based on unit value per ton shipped.
For research purposes, the Harmonized System (HS) codes for crushed or ground: peppercorn is 090422, spice mixtures is 091091, turmeric is 091030, pepper is 090412, saffron is 091020, cinnamon is 090620, ginger is 090620, vanilla is 090520, nutmeg is 090812, cardamoms is 090832, cumin seeds is 090932, coriander seeds is 090922, and cloves is 090720.
Top Exported Spices by Global Sales
Listed below are the most valuable spice exports in 2020 ranked by total sales for each product category.
Also shown is percentage that each entry represents based on the overall value of crushed or ground exported spices.
- Peppercorn: US$1.1 billion (33.2% of global total)
- Spice mixtures: $619.8 billion (18.7%)
- Turmeric: $352.2 billion (10.7%)
- Pepper: $329.5 billion (10%)
- Saffron: $223.5 billion (6.8%)
- Cinnamon: $205.2 billion (6.2%)
- Ginger: $102.7 billion (3.1%)
- Vanilla: $94.8 billion (2.9%)
- Nutmeg: $76 billion (2.3%)
- Cardamoms: $75.6 billion (2.3%)
- Cumin seeds: $74.4 billion (2.2%)
- Coriander seeds: $39.4 billion (1.2%)
- Cloves: $14.7 billion (0.4%)
The fastest-growing spice exports from 2019 to 2020 are the mint-like spice cardamoms (up 50.3%) used for sweet and savoury dishes particularly in Asia, ginger (up 22.1%), spice mixtures (also up 22.1%), coriander seeds (up 17.5%) and peppercorn (up 15.7%).
There were 2 decliners, namely pepper which plunged in total international sales by -48.7% since 2019 and cloves via its -0.7% drop.
The top 3 suppliers of exported peppercorn are China, Spain and India. That trio was responsible for 76% of the total value of crushed or ground spices during 2020.
Most Valuable Exported Spices by Unit Value
The most valuable spices as measured by average unit price per ton shipped.
The average unit value for the spices categories presented in this article is US$16,062 per ton in 2020. The average unit value for spices is down by -5.7% from an average $17,034 one year earlier.
Ranked in descending order, listed below are the spices with the highest unit values in 2020.
- Saffron: US$108,750 per ton (Down -20.8% from 2019)
- Vanilla: $41,270 (Up 15.6%)
- Cardamoms: $17,183 (Up 64.5%)
- Nutmeg: $8,186 (Up 5.2%)
- Cloves: $7,790 (Up 20.2%)
- Cinnamon: $4,919 (Up 13.2%)
- Spice mixtures: $4,874 (Up 15.7%)
- Pepper: $3,988 (Down -4.2%)
- Cumin seeds: $3,484 (Up 9.3%)
- Ginger: $2,707 (Up 18.7%)
- Peppercorn: $2,582 (Up 5.6%)
- Coriander seeds: $1,634 (Up 9.3%)
- Turmeric: $1,436 (Down -8%)
Three spices posted unit values higher than the worldwide average of $16,062 per ton. These value leaders are the world’s costliest spice by weight saffron then vanilla and cardamoms.
Among the greatest gains in unit value per ton from 2019 to 2020 were garnered by cardamoms (up 64.5%), cloves (up 20.2%), ginger (up 18.7%), spice mixtures (up 15.7%) and vanilla (up 15.6%).
Enduring declines in unit value per ton was saffron (down -20.8% since 2019), turmeric (down -8%) and pepper (down -4.2%).
The trio of leading saffron exporters are Iran, Spain and Afghanistan. Those 3 countries were responsible for 86.5% of the total value of crushed or ground spices during 2020.
Biggest Exports of Spices by Weight
Shifting our focus to the weight of spice shipments, a total 1.026 million tons in crushed or ground spices were exported during 2020.
In terms of weight, globally exported spices reduced by -6.6% year over year.
- Peppercorn: 425,590 tons (Up 9.7% from 2019)
- Turmeric: 245,225 tons (Up 238.3%)
- Spice mixtures: 127,147 tons (Down -60.9%)
- Pepper: 82,631 tons (Up 2.2%)
- Cinnamon: 41,714 tons (Down -47.1%)
- Ginger: 37,932 tons (Down -32.5%)
- Coriander seeds: 24,101 tons (Up 9,778%)
- Cumin seeds: 21,351 tons (Up 972.6%)
- Nutmeg: 9,282 tons (Up 4.6%)
- Cardamoms: 4,398 tons (Down -8.6%)
- Vanilla: 2,297 tons (Down -92.2%)
- Saffron: 2,055 tons (Down -95.8%)
- Cloves: 1,893 tons (Down -16.9%)
The 5 heaviest shipments of spices by tonnage are comprised of peppercorn, turmeric which is a key ingredient in curry powder, spice mixtures, pepper and cinnamon. Collectively, that quintet of major spices represents 89.9% of all spices shipped by weight in 2020.
The 3 fastest weight increases from 2019 to 2020 were posted by: coriander seeds sometimes called Chinese parsley (up 9,778%), cumin seeds which is another member of the parsley family (up 972.6%) and turmeric (up 238.3%).
The most intense declines in shipment weight belong to saffron (down -95.8%), vanilla (down -92.2%) and spice mixtures (down -60.9%).
By total shipment weight, the top 3 suppliers of exported peppercorn are China, India and Spain. That trio was responsible for 75.5% of the total weight of crushed or ground spices during 2020.
See also Top Garlic Exports by Country, Top Ginger Exporters by Country, Onions Exports by Country, Top Pickles Exporters by Country and Top Salt Exports & Imports by Country Plus Average Prices
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on January 18, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on January 18, 2022
Wikipedia, Saffron. Accessed on January 18, 2022
Wikipedia, Spice. Accessed on January 18, 2022
Wikipedia, Turmeric. Accessed on January 18, 2022