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Market analysis of cumin seed

This paper investigates the current state of the international cumin market and explores the market opportunities for Australian cumin producers. It provides a baseline assessment of the global industry, using the limited information currently available, and identifies areas for further research. The study used secondary data sourced from credible databases including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Trade Organization(WTO), United Nations International Trade Statistics Database (UN ComTrade) and the World Bank. Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is a small herb, belonging to the Apiaceae family. It produces aromatic dried fruit, which are marketed either whole or ground. Cumin seeds come in three colours: amber, white and black. Amber is the most widely available variety, but the black cumin has the most intense flavour. Cumin is widely used as seasoning in cooking, particularly in the cuisines of Mexico, India and the Middle East. Powder and oil are the most common value-added products of cumin. It is also used in perfumery and flavouring liquors, as well as in medicinal products. Cumin is a good source of plant protein, monosaturated fats and dietary fibres, and the different biological and biomedical activities of cumin have been shown to assist in the treatment of indigestion and hypertension. Currently about 91% of the world’s cumin is produced from four countries: India, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). While limited global production data is available, India is estimated to produce about 70% of the world’s cumin, with approximately 800,000 hectares under cultivation and yielding 500,000 tonnes. In 2018, India exported about 187,000 tonnes of cumin at a net value of US$438 million. The average trade value of Indian cumin on the international market is US$ 2,344/tonne. In the US the domestic market price of cumin is approximately $3000/tonnes (UN ComTrade, 2019, DASD, 2019, TurkStat, 2019). The Australian domestic market for cumin is supplied by imports, with 1,080 tonnes imported in 2018, valued about US$3.8M (UN ComTrade, 2019). The majority of the cumin was imported from India. The limited available data indicates there has been a continuous growth in the quantity of imported cumin, both in Australia and other international markets. The demand trend line indicates that by 2025 Australia will be importing more than 1,800tonnes/year (Figure 12). The trade price of cumin in Australia has been volatile over the last decade, with rates varying depending on the product origin and transport costs. In 2018 the price was US$ 3,553/tonnes (UN ComTrade, 2019). Australia typically pays a higher than average trading value for cumin on the international market which suggests there is an opportunity for a new local cumin industry to target the higher values on offer within Australia, before scaling up production for international markets. Suitability of Australian conditions for cumin production will be tested through the CRC for Developing Northern Australia ‘Spicing Up the North’ project. What is already known from the global supply chain is that cumin is cultivated mostly in tropical and subtropical regions (ideally within the 20o to 38o north latitudes) but requires low atmospheric humidity. It prefers loamy and medium-textured soils with good drainage. For maximum yield, the cumin plant requires a temperature range from 9oC to 26oC which is generally the winter season of the major cumin producing regions of India, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. It is sensitive to frost and both flower and seeds could be damaged with low temperatures (below 2oC). Australia has the opportunity to provide counter seasonal production to the major cumin producing countries in the northern hemisphere, which will potentially impact global price cycles. However, further assessment of this impact is required given that cumin can dried and stored for long periods. The proximity of Australia to the largest market in Asia provides the greatest advantage for Australian cumin producers.Pending proof of its suitability to Australian environments, future research will be required to understand the supply chain infrastructure required to support a new industry, as well as the value chain structures that could support value-adding opportunities for medicinal products.


Category 4 - CRC Research Income


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Central Queensland University

Place of Publication


Peer Reviewed


Open Access


Author Research Institute

Institute for Future Farming Systems

Era Eligible


Parent Title

A.2.1819045 - Spicing up Northern Australia with high-value condiment crops