The United States imports spices from over 50 countries and the 5 most common regions are Canada, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico. Exporters supply 60% of spices in the United States annually and domestic use of spices has been on the rise according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With such a variety of spices produced globally, this could be a good addition to your importing business.
Your first step is to determine which spices you want to import. The American Spice Trade Association has a list and there’s also a comprehensive list of spices found here at spicesinc.com. Spice imports must comply with Food and Drug Administration standards. To check on proper labelling of products, you can always contact with the FDA. There’s no limit on the amount of spices you can import. Some products are subject to restrictions. You can speak with U.S. customs for more information, and see if their website has a simple answer to a frequent question.
Next you’ll need to find a supplier. A good place to start is at Alibaba. You’ll be able to look at lots of global suppliers. You can also find suppliers at trade shows. Most are industry specific and you can meet with manufacturers face-to-face. Next to going overseas and meeting them, attending a trade show is definitely one of the best options for securing a supplier. EventsEye lists trade shows throughout the U.S.
Choosing the right supplier is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as an importer. You want to be confident you can rely on them and develop a strong business relationship. There are some scammers out there so make sure to do your research in picking a supplier you can trust. We also recommend using ImportGenius.com, a web application with a searchable database of all U.S. imports. This allows you to search for suppliers, check out shipment trends and even monitor your competition. If you see that a particular supplier works with some major companies, that might also be an indication of a legitimate supplier you might like to begin business with.
The Import genius database shows almost nearly 14,900 shipments of ‘spices’ in the entire database. This number might seem a little overwhelming. We can narrow this down and look at shipments of turmeric, in the ginger family. A quick search for turmeric in the product category shows multiple shipments over the last few weeks. One of the most recent shipments was received by ‘House of Spices (India) Inc.’ and the supplier was ‘QUALITY SPICES & FOOD EXPORTS PVT L’ in India. With the visual mapping tool, we’re able to see that House of Spices also works with suppliers ‘Arab & India Spices Ltd.’ and ‘Nestle India Limited’. Contact information for all of these companies is provided, so you can easily get in touch with a potential supplier. You can see how this service might be useful on a regular basis, whether you’re looking to develop new product imports or you’re looking to grow your current supply.
When you get in touch with your supplier, you can then place your order and establish the payment terms. Most importers will put a down payment on the order. You’ll pay 20-30% upfront and the rest is due when the goods are ready to be shipped. The other option is to have your bank issue the supplier a letter of credit. There are some fees that go with this and it requires some more time for processing.
Now you’ll just need to wait for the shipment to reach the U.S. port. In the meantime, be sure to arrange for a customs broker to handle the customs clearance. Your broker will handle the paperwork on your behalf. With that taken care of, your goods will be ready for pick-up. Your broker can also direct you to a freight and drayage company so the goods will safely get transported to your warehouse. Check out UScustomsbrokers.org to view potential brokers and read reviews.