“The demand for fresh herbs is on the rise,” says Ayelet Lantzer of the AdaFresh, a company that exports products, including fresh herbs, from its head office in Israel and its logistics site in the Netherlands. “It seems consumers are becoming more aware of fresh herbs. Fresh herbs have become part of normal household consumption patterns.”
AdaFresh main office is situated in Israel, in the Netherlands there is a distribution centre
She considers the continued focus on these flavor enhancers in TV cooking shows as the main reason why people are demanding fresh herbs, more and more. This attention is also the reason for this product category’s growth. Ayelet has seen that for a few years now, there has been a development whereby consumers are more often substituting dried herbs with fresh ones. This is mainly thanks to fresh herbs’ flavor and freshness.
Room for growth
“The fresh herb market is still developing,” explains Ayelet, who is AdaFresh’s Marketing Director. She foresees expansion in the retail as well as the food service and wholesale markets. “There is room for growth.” AdaFresh supplies both these sectors. Lantzer noticed that the foodservice market’s focus on fresh herbs began a little later than that of retailers.
So, that market presents more opportunities for expansion. AdaFresh, therefore, then also reported more growth in the foodservice sector. Ayelet thinks the fresh herb market is expanding throughout Europe. “There is more room for growth in Eastern Europe since fewer people eat fresh herbs there than in Western Europe. But that gap is shrinking rapidly.”
Herbs such as red basil, salicornia, and sorrel form part of AdaFresh’s assortment, but the frontrunners among these flavor enhancers are basil, chives, and mint. “These products are still expanding rapidly,” says Ayelet. Adafresh sources these herbs from both Israel and Kenya. “It is always challenging because herb cultivation is extremely weather-dependent. It is a very sensitive product, and any change in the weather can affect its production. It is, therefore, a real feat to purchase the right quantity and quality.”
Sales were excellent over the festive season. Yet, Ayelet concedes that the current weather conditions in Israel, as well as Kenya - heavy rains are being predicted in both countries - are making it extra tough to meet the increasing demand for fresh herbs. She thinks global warming is changing the world’s climate, making for ever-increasing challenges. “In Kenya, for example, winter is usually the dry season, but this winter was unexpectedly wet. That is different.”
Basil, chive and mint are the top crops
Although there is undoubtedly an ever-increasing demand for these fresh flavor enhancers, Ayelet considers these changing weather patterns to be a serious threat. “There is consumer demand, and the solution to these problems will probably have to come from production in other regions.”
She, however, does not expect these conditions to affect consumer demand. The Adafresh Marketing Director predicts that this growth will continue. However, the climate is changing to such an extent that Ayelet already sees a shift in cultivation. “Fresh herb production is increasingly taking place in Europe.”
“It used to be too cold in the winter to allow for the cultivation of herbs in areas such as Spain, Morocco, and Italy. But, due to global warming, this is now possible. Production in Central and South America is also exploding.” Ayelet expects the cultivation of fresh herbs in these ‘new regions’ to develop further, as will new varieties, which will only benefit consumers.