Modern extraction technologies have brought fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) from traditional spice to the forefront of flavor compound development and functional flavors. And while application in maple syrups historically consumes the largest volume of basic fenugreek extracts in North America, fenugreek extracts are now formulated into tobacco flavors, seasonings, bakery and dairy applications, tea, pizza sauces, soups, and even livestock feed.

But even as fenugreek markets consistently point to growing demand, which supply can only meet with sustainable price levels, few specialists will tag their name on a short-term doom-and-gloom scenario for this commodity.

Recent industry activity in fenugreek makes it the ideal case study for management of a natural. In an era where complacency leads rapidly to business failure, the lack of any major crisis may just be the perfect time to reconsider all aspects of an ingredient administration. Wrestling with currency fluctuations, rising energy and extraction solvent costs, some key fenugreek players are proactively questioning their business practices in sourcing, processing, research and marketing by taking a vigorous look at enhancing efficiencies all along the supply chain and extraction process. This story provides a glimpse behind the scenes of advanced ingredient management: improving the sourcing of seeds in India, fine-tuning fenugreek grade selection to enhance extraction yields, researching new products and applications, and catering to new markets—all in effort to take fenugreek to the next level.

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