With urbanisation, the market demand for powdered and processed spices of different brands is growing day by day.
Talking to producers of powdered spices, The Business Standard (TBS) has learnt that the country's spice market is worth about Tk4,500-Tk5,000 crore, and the market for packaged spices alone is around Tk1,300 crore.
Industry insiders say changes in quality of life have led to an increased dependence on packaged spices of different brands. There was a time when women used to cook and raise children staying home, but now they also work outside. Many women have become entrepreneurs while many are earning a livelihood as employees.
Coming back to spices, Arku of Lalmai Food Products Limited is an old brand in the powdered spices market.
Lalmai Group Chairman Aminur Rashid Yasin told TBS, "Due to changes in lifestyle, some people are becoming increasingly dependent on packaged spices and with that the market for brand powdered spices is also expanding every year."
Sources involved in producing powdered spices said that with the change in people's lifestyles, increasing demand for packaged spices has resulted in a double-digit market growth in the demand for ready to use, packaged, spice brands.
Industry insiders say the more women enter education and employment, the less time they have for the cumbersome task of preparing spices from scratch, although they may still be involved in cooking for the family.
In these changing times, powdered spices are making cooking easier. At one time, turmeric and red chili was ground in mortar and pestle (Sheel Pata) at home. There came a time when this was done by machine at a mill, in both rural and urban areas.
But now, packaged powdered spice brands, produced by big industrial companies using advanced technology, are gaining popularity.
One such powdered spice brand is Radhuni of Square Food and Beverages.
The company started selling packaged spices 20 years ago. Since then, many large companies have entered the market, but more than 70% of the market is still held by Radhuni. ACI Pure, Pran, and BD Food Powder each have about a 10% or less market share.
Imtiaz Firoz, head of marketing, Square Food and Beverages, told TBS: "Every year, the packaged spices market is growing in double digits. At present, the packaged spice market is worth Tk1,300 crore."
ACI Pure, Pran, Acme, BD, Arku and Fresh are the established and known powdered spice brands in the market. Bashundhara powdered spice has recently entered the market as a new competitor. More or less all these companies sell various powdered spices including turmeric, chilli, cumin, coriander, beef and chicken spices, phuchka-chatpati spices, biryani spices, and halim mixes.
Bashundhara's Chief Operating Officer (Brand and Marketing), Jasim Uddin, told TBS, "We have entered into direct agreements with farmers. Our powdered spices are being made in a modern factory collecting turmeric and pepper directly from them."
He said, "No artificial flavour or colour is added to our packaged spices. That is why the spice has a natural flavor which is attracting customers."
Other than packaged spices, whole spices, not ground, powdered or in paste form, are also sold in the market.
Onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and many other spices are used in cooking. Of these, onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric and chili are widely cultivated in the country. But to meet demand, onion, ginger, and garlic are imported from India, and China also.
Various other spices like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, and clove are imported from more than 22 countries of the world, including India.
Processed spice producers say that though demand for packaged spices has increased a lot and continues to grow, the market demand for whole, traditional, spices is still significant. Nevertheless, the demand for packaged spices is growing at a faster rate than the overall demand for spices.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, director of marketing at Pran RFL Group, told TBS, "The overall demand for spices is growing at a rate of 2%-3% every year while the demand for packaged spices is increasing at a rate of 10%-15%."
He said the demand for packaged spices is increasing rapidly as it is making people's busy lives easier.
Export of powdered spices has tripled in 10 years
Not only is the demand for packaged spices increasing in the country, but the producing companies are also profiting from exports.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), a record amount of powdered spices was exported in fiscal year 2020-21 when processed spices worth $43.29 million were exported.
In the financial year 2011-12, only $13.6 million worth of spices were exported. In hardly 10 years, export earnings from processed spices have more than tripled.
Clearly there is a good demand for processed spices worldwide and Bangladesh has carved out markets in different countries. Hopefully, spice exports will increase rapidly in the coming days.