Risks of the Spice Trade

There are many middlemen in the spice trade’s supply chain. Spices grown in rural India or Pakistan move through farmers, longshoremen, customs officers, and shippers before arriving stateside. From there, companies like McCormick’s package and distribute the spices to stores across the country. During such a long and complex journey, there’s ample opportunity for tampering or contamination of the spices — making a highly visible supply chain essential.

Another threat to the spice trade is the climate — both environmental and political. Since different spices need to be grown in different climates, environmental disasters can cripple the trade; in 2011, for example, Thailand was hit with devastating floods that depleted many of its native crops. Political instability can also affect the market; in the same year, for instance, revolutions in Egypt erupted, meaning that spices grown there were not guaranteed to make it out of the country.

Despite these obstacles, the spice trade — much like the chocolate trade — continues to thrive, thanks to highly coordinated logistics along every step of the product’s journey from harvest to health food store.

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