This movement towards more global flavor trends has resulted in market growth of 1.3 percent since 2004, to reach a total value of $2.9bn in 2005. And the market is expected to grow at a steady pace, according to the publisher of the new report, Packaged Facts.
Spices and Seasonings in the US examines four primary categories: spices; salts or salt substitutes; extracts, flavorings or food coloring; and pepper.
But although the market is not expected to experience lightening growth, it is forecast to cross the $3bn mark in 2009, and climb to $3.8bn in 2010, fueled by increased home cooking and a growing number of more adventurous consumers.
However, in 2005, the only category to experience growth was the spice sector, which tracked sales reaching $1.1bn. Spices currently account for the largest share of the market, with an almost two thirds share in 2005.
Salt, seasoned salt and salt substitutes come in as the next largest category, holding 14.3 percent of the market. Extracts, flavorings and food colorings have an 11.5 percent market share, while pepper holds 8.2 percent of the market. All three categories saw a "slight decline" in 2005, said the report.
And as consumers indulge in flavor experimentation, they are likely to be willing to pay premium prices for premium products. According to the report, of the 236 products introduced in 2005, 136 were tagged 'upscale' and 46 were tagged 'gourmet'.
A general interest in natural and organic products has also spread to this market, with 90 new products labeled 'natural' and 31 claiming they were made with 'organic' ingredients.
According to a Simmons Market Research Bureau survey in 2005, around 87 percent of the US population currently uses spices. And packaged Facts revealed that young males are the most likely to warm to spices, while African Americans and people from the Southwest also indicated a preference for spicier food. And because spices evoke images of buffalo wings and beer, college students also weigh in high, said the report.
The current market leader for spices in the US is McCormick, which holds almost 40 percent of the market. Indeed, of the top five players, it is the only one to have recorded a sales increase in 2005, with company sales up 1.3 percent to $685.4m.
Other top players all saw slight sales declines. Tone Brothers currently holds 4.6 percent of the spice and seasonings market, and Morton Salt has a 4.2 percent market share, overtaking Unilever for third place, after the consumer goods giant saw sales decline to $70.7m, down 6 percent from 2004.Marketing initiatives to promote spices and seasonings have included McCormick's celebrity spokesman campaign launched last year and featuring football legend Joe Montana to promote its line of Grill Mates products.
And in an effort to target the more creative consumer, the firm advertised its Gourmet Collection Seasoning range earlier this year with the tag line: "There are those who follow recipes. And those who create them."
According to Productscan Online data, the market leader launched 19 new brands between January 2005 and July 2006.