Clusters of Expo 2015: spices

Spices often accompany our dishes and they are one of the clusters of Expo 2015.

Discover our stand at Cersaie 2014 and the photographs of the event Tiles & Food Novoceram inspired by this topic.


Presentation of spices

Spices are substances of plant origin, with a strong or tangy flavour. They can be grown or simply found in nature and can come from barks (eg. the cinnamon), flowers (eg. cloves, saffron), leaves (eg. bay leaf, tea), fruits (eg. pepper, dill, mustard), bulbs (eg. the garlic, ginger, onion), or seeds (eg. fennel seeds, coriander).

Spices can be classified as follows: ripe fruit, seeds and roots or bulbs.

Some mixes of spices are very popular, as for instance the bouquet garni, the five berries, five spices powder, the colombo powder, garam masala, Harissa, the Ras el hanout, the zahtar.

les épices
©jean-louis Zimmermann

Spices are used not only to give more flavor to dishes but also for their health benefits as diuretic, stimulant, degreasers etc.

Here is a list of the main types of spices:

    • cinnamon,
    • cloves,
    • coriander,
    • cumin,
    • turmeric,
    • curry,
    • tonka beans,
    • juniper,
    • ginger,
    • mustard seeds,
    • nutmeg
    • paprika,
    • chili Pepper,
    • pepper,
    • licorice,
    • saffron,
    • vanilla

Spices: a brief history

According to historians, the consumption of spices dates back to the fourth century before Christ. Their trade developed in the Middle East since 2000 BC in particular with cinnamon and pepper.
Spices were exotic products and therefore very expensive. They have also very often been used as currency.

les épices

Some common spices


Pepper comes from the berries of different trees.

les épices
©Eric Bégin

The term « pepper » comes from the Sanskrit « pippali », transformed into the Latin « piper ». It is a plant native to the western coast of India in the state of Kerala from where it spread to other parts of the world. Since the time of Alexander the Great pepper had also spread in Greece. The conquest of the city of Alexandria by the Arabs in 642 marked the beginning of its commercialization.

In 2010, 230 millions kg of pepper were produced in the world.
Vietnam is the leading producer with a yield of 1,200 kg per hectare, followed by India, Indonesia, Brazil and Malaysia.


Saffron is extracted from a variety of crocus: the crocus sativus.

©Angela Llop

Saffron is called « red gold » because it is the most expensive spice in the world. It is native to the Middle East but it was already cultivated in Greece 35 centuries ago. Its name comes from the Latin « safranum ».

Nowadays 95% of world production comes from Iran.

In 2009, 150 tons of saffron were produced worldwide.

India is the second largest producer, but production there  is mainly destined to domestic consumption. Greece is the first producer in Europe, with 8 tons collected on 1,000 hectares per year, and the third in the world.

The United States and the countries of the Persian Gulf are the main consumers of saffron.


Cinnamon is the inner bark of the cinnamon-tree. Cinnamon is mainly produced in Sri Lanka, China, India, Java, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Brazil and in the French Antilles.
This spice is known since ancient times and the Greeks and the Romans have been the first to use it.

des épices

The cinnamon-tree can grow to a height of 15 meters and it has a thin bark. The harvest is usually done in the mornings of spring rainy days.

Production and consumption of spices

Production of spices

World production of spices in 2005 was 6.6 million tons, the 86% of  which came from India.

Consumption of spices

Spices are used in cooking as preservatives, colorings and flavorings. Developed countries consume 12.3% of spices and India in particular consumes 46% of the world production.

©Delphine Ménard

One comment :

  1. There’s certainly a lot to learn about thiis subject.
    I love all the points you have made.


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