U.S. Consumers Are Spicing Up Their Lives (and Kitchens) with a Fragrant Kick

U.S. Consumers Are Spicing Up Their Lives (and Kitchens) with a Fragrant Kick

Sugar and spice and everything nice is okay when you’re young, but why should kids have all the fun? As it turns out, dried herbs and spices seem to be all the rage for adults too, as retail sales for these two categories have grown by more than $223 million over the past four years. So are people finally realizing that goodness in their spice racks can do wonders for their food?

But first things first: What separates the herbs from the spices? For the non-foodies, herbs come from the leafy, green part of the plant, while spices come from other parts of the plant, including root, stem, bulb, bark and seeds.

Right off the top, we know that sales in these categories are growing across the board—and significantly more than standard salts and peppers. Notably, the herb and spice categories account for more than $1 billion in U.S. consumer spending each year. In the 52 weeks ended May 28, 2016, Americans spent $927 million on spices and an additional $299 million on herbs, indicating the demand for flavor in their home cooked meals.

But individual herbs and spice products aren’t the only ones that consumers are reaching for off the shelves: blended garlic-centric herb and spice seasoning products are also enhancing the flavor of dishes across America. During the same 52 week period, this potent pre-mixed herb and spice blend generated more than $3 billion in sales, indicating that whether standalone or blended, food wouldn’t be as flavorful without the fragrance or kick.

Within spices/seasonings, we see growth in products that are often staples in cuisine from outside the U.S. For example, bold flavors like chili, cinnamon and red pepper, often used in Hispanic and Indian dishes, topped the sales chart over the last year. On the herb front, U.S. consumers prefer cool, fragrant and common additions to their meals–with oregano, parsley and basil in the leading the sales charge.


The sales data was derived from Nielsen Answers On Demand, 52 weeks ended May 28, 2016.