Spice production is a global market representing over 12 billion USD in sales annually. Spices and seasonings are a broad category that includes dried seeds, roots, plant materials, bark or fruits that are used as a flavoring or preservative for foods. Herbs are generally vegetative or leaf parts from a plant that is used as a flavoring.
The spice industry is a complex, dynamic industry with a wide diversity of products. Common requirements across the various products include product identification, consistency and safety. Often laboratory tests and sensory evaluations are both used to aid in the production of spices and seasonings.
Incoming spices and herbs can be analyzed for moisture, protein, oil, volatile oil, and other properties to aid in processing. In some cases, regulatory concerns require a positive product identification before processing can begin. In-process spices can be analyzed for moisture, volatile oil, etc. to optimize the process. Finished spices can be analyzed for moisture, volatile oil, oil, protein, hot water insolubles, and more to determine quality for shipment to customers.
NIR has long been used as an analytical tool in the spice, seasoning and herb industries. NIR analyzers have the ability to provide the above analytical parameters in 30 seconds, allowing for positive control of the process. Optimizing the process enables efficient production with less waste and higher profits.