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'Thoughts from across the desk.'

Sixty years ago spices were imported and distributed to a very different food industry from today. Each company blended its own product and created a seasoning whose recipe was kept secret. In modern times the secrecy still remains but an industry has grown up around that particular element of food manufacturing. Many elements of the modern food industry worldwide are rather like the car industry - a production line with elements being bolted on; and one of these elements is the seasoning, flavouring, colouring, preserving, etc, one. Our industry has come of age. Where will it go in future years?

The multi-national, multi-branded food producers will no doubt use satellite television advertising as their method of spreading global branding but these producers will need the support of smaller organisations. The food retailer will go down a similar path with pan-European organisations ultimately taking the lion's share of the market. There will, however, be room for national companies which pander to localised tastes - and may that long exist. There will also be much smaller units, with proprietors still wearing a multitude of hats, creating small runs of unique products. However, the real challenge will be servicing the multi-nationals.

How is this future food industry, including the spice industry, to shape up to its responsibilities with regard to the environment? In the long term, our very existence will depend upon the leaders of these multi-national organisations. Their responsibility for future generations is awesome but there are certainly a number of well known organisations trying to provoke others into action. It will be up to the food industry itself to collect, collate and act on much of the advice that is already available. The spice industry worldwide, from the small allotment-type growers in India to the large paprika farmers in Brazil will have to look to the future and be assured that they are also using the most environmentally friendly methods of production. This would include not only new methods of fertilising and pest control but also, in the long term more importantly, looking after the wild plant life and its environment. It is from this environment that the strong natural genes will come for cross-breeding. Without the environment in which they flourish being safeguarded, the reservoir for future generations will be lost for ever.

Much information is already available through organisations such as Friends of the Earth, the World Wide Fund for Nature and not the least the publication Your Business and the Environment, a DIY review of companies from Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte. If readers of this small contribution to Food Trade Review in their 60th year of publication act with some urgency, there is every possibility that in another 60 years from now, further celebrations will take place.

We shall see the continual growth of institutional organisations linked to governmental bodies like our own Seasoning Manufacturers' Association linking to the Spice Trades Association and as a secretariat of the Food and Drink Federation which, in turn, will link to its European counterparts.

Through discussions held with central governmental bodies, many problems will be resolved, directives issued and ultimately acted upon. Again, it will be through this type of channelling that environmental issues will constantly be raised and worked upon.

A further topic is irradiation. Yes, it works well and yes, at low levels, it is legal to use it in the spice industry. However, not until a substantial majority of the consuming public is prepared to accept it, should we encourage its use in the food industry at large. We in the spice trade have been traditionally accused of adulteration to the detriment of our industry. We do wish to suffer the modern equivalent, since at this time it would have a bad effect on our reputation and trade. It is with optimism and dynamism that we face the future but never at a pace which the majority of the consuming public cannot tolerate.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Dalton, Matthew
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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