Turmeric can be found in nearly every single grocery store on the planet, as well as thousands of different online shops out there. Knowing that, is there one country in particular which imports the most turmeric? If so, who is it, and what are they using it for?
India imports the most turmeric in the world, but only by a relatively fine margin. If you read our other article on global turmeric trade, you’ll know that India is the country that exports the most turmeric, by far. The reason for this is that turmeric grows incredibly well in India, and so it’s the natural place to grow a large amount of it. While there are other countries where the spice can be grown, nowhere does it better than India.
Because of the important place turmeric holds in the culture of India, there’s a huge demand for it! For that reason, not only do companies within India grow and sell turmeric, India has to import it too! It’s a ubiquitous spice, being found in food, drink, and even medicine!
The country which imports the second most turmeric is the United States. They import nearly as much as India does, trading thirty-three billion dollars worth of turmeric in 2019, compared to India’s thirty-four billion that year.
There are two main reasons that the US imports so much turmeric: immigration and alternative medicine.
Throughout modern history, there have been an awful lot of Indian families who have emigrated to the US. Those families took with them their own recipes and homemade cures which involved a lot of turmeric. When they moved to the US, they still wanted to use turmeric in their day to day lives, and so it had to be imported. As this practice became more widespread, other people living in the US began to use the spice as well, leading to a gentle snowball effect which saw a rise in people using turmeric, and therefore people wanting more turmeric imported.
The alternative medicine reason is the other half of why the US imports a lot of turmeric. Turmeric has a lot of well-known and well-documented medicinal uses, which have been known about in a non-mainstream way for thousands of years. In recent years alternative medicine has seen a rise in popularity in the US, which has led to more demand for turmeric in natural remedies and cures.
As well as those particularly US-centric reasons, turmeric has just generally been growing in popularity over the past few years. In both India and the US, as well as a number of other countries, it’s not particularly common to see ‘golden milk’ or a turmeric latte on the menu at a number of coffee shops.
This drink is a traditional Indian drink that has seen a resurgence of late. It’s made by mixing turmeric into milk, which is then drunk for its taste and health benefits. Typically, coconut milk is used for this, as the rich creaminess of the coconut pairs particularly well with the unique flavour of the turmeric.
There are also, of course, reasons that turmeric is used in India which do not apply in the US. One such reason could be the traditional Hindi marriage ceremony, the Haldi Ceremony. Hindi is a predominant religion in India, while there are far fewer practising Hindus in the US. The Haldi ceremony is a marriage blessing in which turmeric is applied to the bride and groom, in the hopes that it will cleanse them and allow them to proceed into marriage blessed by their families. As much as the Haldi ceremony uses a lot of turmeric in its course, it’s unlikely that it is the principal reason. There are a number of similar ceremonies, however, which - when added together - may explain the disparity between Indian turmeric usage and US turmeric usage.
Turmeric is used the world over and is imported by any number of different countries for any number of different reasons. Whether you’re hoping to use turmeric for a Haldi ceremony or as part of your dinner, it’s a wonderful blessing that the golden spice can unite us all like this. Make sure to check out our authentic Indian turmeric root powder, we’re sure it won’t disappoint you!