Spice oleoresins, which are the solvent extracts of spices, have been used in the food industry for over twenty years. They became accepted during the 1970s as a common ingredient for the food manufacturer and their production and consumption have been steady over the last few years. Extracted spices which are often spread onto a salt or cereal base offer the food manufacturer a clean and standardised form of what was once a variable and a dirty ingredient.
At least 50% of the world production of spice oleoresins is represented by black pepper oleoresin, most of which is consumed in the U.S.A., U.K., Canada and W. Germany. When they were first introduced, oleoresins were manufactured in the user countries, i.e., U.S.A., Canada and U.K., however the trend has been for the producing countries to set up their own oleoresin plants, often with the backing of companies from America or Europe. Currently the U.S.A. imports around 60% of its oleoresin pepper requirements, whereas the U.K. only imports 10%.
Manufacturing plants are starting up in India, Indonesia, and Malaya at the rate of several each year. Most, if not all, have little knowledge of their intended market or of its current or proposed legislation and how it may affect their products. There are a number of plants around the world which have never produced or sold more than a few kilos of oleoresin. The result of this is a considerable overcapacity worldwide for oleoresin production. It is however very difficult to find a consistent supply of the right product which will conform to the users’ specification and to the importing countries’ legislation.