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What Is the World’s Most Commonly Traded Spice?

Black pepper is the world’s most commonly traded spice, with the United States being the leading importer and consumer of the spice. It comes from the peppercorn fruit on the vine of the Piper nigrum. While the Piper nigrum plant is indigenous to South India, black pepper’s leading producer is Vietnam, followed by India, Indonesia, and Brazil. Black pepper is a component of a wide range of ethnic cuisines to add a pungent or hot flavor. Its popularity may be attributed to the long history of the spice, which dates back to 2000 BCE; however, black pepper was once so rare, it was only used by the very wealthy and was even considered a form of currency in the Middle Ages.

More about spices:

  • India is the leading producer, consumer, and exporter of spices overall worldwide.

  • Black pepper causes sneezing because it contains a chemical known as piperine, which irritates the nerves inside the nose.

  • Saffron, the dried threads from the crocus flower, is the most expensive spice in the world--it has an average price of $1,500 US Dollars (USD) per pound (.45 kg), which requires an entire acre of land and thousands of flowers to be produced.

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