How to Start a Exotic Herbs and Spices Business in UK USA (Business Plan)

Exotic Herbs & Spices Business

Do you have these questions in your mind?

  • How to start an Exotic Herbs and Spices Business
  • How much money do you need to start an Exotic Herbs and Spices Business?
  • How much money can you make from Exotic Herbs and Spices business?
  • What licenses will you need for your Exotic Herbs and Spices business?


In this article, you will find answers to all your questions. So please grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is the Exotic Herbs and Spices business?

With a worldwide value of around $13.77 billion and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7%, the Exotic Herbs and Spices business is becoming one of the most trending and popular industries in the world right now!


This business focuses on sourcing, importing, and distributing rare and hard-to-find herbs and spices often used in specific cuisines or dishes and may be less readily available in traditional grocery stores or supermarkets.


Examples include saffron, truffles, cinnamon, cardamom, and sumac.


Due to the rarity and uniqueness of these products, this business will cater to a more niche market and may have higher price points than more commonly available herbs and spices.


Starting an exotic herbs and spices business can be an exciting and rewarding venture for entrepreneurs looking to tap into this growing market. 

Market Insight: The Exotic Herbs & Spices industry is a significant and growing sector in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In the United States, it is valued at around $1.7 billion, while in the United Kingdom, the Exotic Herbs & Spices industry reached a total of £714 million.

Exotic Herbs & Spices Business

Types of Exotic Herbs and Spices Business Models 

Entrepreneurs can consider several types of exotic herbs and spices business models when starting a business in this industry. These include:


1. Online Retail: 

An online retail business may source products from growers and distributors worldwide and sell them through a website or online marketplace such as Amazon or Etsy.


2. Wholesale Distribution: 

The wholesale distribution business model involves sourcing exotic herbs and spices in bulk from growers or distributors and selling them to specialty food stores, restaurants, and manufacturers.


3. Private Label: 

The private label business model involves creating a brand and product line of exotic herbs and spices, often with unique blends and flavors, and selling them to retailers under their brand name. 


4. Farm-to-Table: 

The farm-to-table business model involves working directly with farmers and growers to source exotic herbs and spices and selling them now to consumers or retailers. 


5. Specialty Retail: 

The specialty retail business model involves operating a brick-and-mortar store or stand that sells a wide range of exotic herbs and spices. 

Exotic Herbs & Spices Business

Pros and Cons of an Exotic Herbs and Spices Business

Pros of an Exotic Herbs and Spices Business

  • Growing demand for unique and diverse flavors
  • High profit margins
  • Ability to differentiate products through branding and marketing
  • Potential for repeat customers and brand loyalty
  • Flexibility in business model and product offerings

Cons of an Exotic Herbs and Spices Business

  • Highly competitive market
  • Seasonal fluctuations in supply and demand
  • Reliance on global supply chains and fluctuations in commodity prices
  • Need for extensive knowledge of products and their uses
  • Requires significant investment in branding, packaging, and marketing.

Trends & Challenges in an Exotic Herbs & Spices Business


1. Increasing demand for organic and sustainable products
2. Growing popularity of plant-based and vegetarian diets
3. Emergence of functional herbs and spices that offer health benefits
4. Increased interest in international cuisine and flavors
5. Use of social media and influencer marketing to promote products
6. Development of unique and customized blends of herbs and spices
7. Use of technology in sourcing, processing, and distribution of products.


1. Fluctuations in commodity prices and availability
2. Competition from established brands and new entrants to the market
3. Difficulty in sourcing high-quality, authentic products
4. Compliance with complex international trade regulations and certifications
5. Maintaining consistent product quality and supply chain integrity
6. Managing inventory and minimizing waste
7. Adapting to changing consumer preferences and trends
8. Addressing issues related to product safety and contamination.

Investment required to start an Exotic Herbs and Spices Business

The start-up costs for an Exotic Herbs and Spices Business can range from £30K – £300K in the UK, while in the US, it’s around $50K – $500K.


But it heavily depends upon the size, the type of herbs & spices, the location of the factory, and the resources and infrastructure already in place.


List of common operating expenses:


  • Raw materials
  • Salaries
  • Vehicle
  • Rent
  • Internet
  • Insurance (if any)
  • Electricity
  • Telephone
  • Office supplies
  • Repairs
  • Licenses (if any)
  • Property taxes
  • Loans if any
  • Advertisement costs
  • Office & Administration
  • Packaging
  • Equipment/machines
  • Gas
  • Miscellaneous expenses
Exotic Herbs & Spices Business

How much does the Exotic Herbs & Spices business make?

As mentioned above, there are lots of different types of Exotic Herbs and Spices businesses you can choose from. The average revenue of your business will heavily depend upon the type of business you choose.


Providing an exact average annual revenue for an Exotic Herbs and Spices business in the US & UK is challenging, as the payment varies based on various factors. 


Still, as an exotic herbs & spices company, you can expect an average income of around $20K-$100K in the US and the UK and around £10K-£50K.


Note: The actual revenue can vary based on various factors, and it’s essential to conduct thorough research and planning to determine the specific income potential for your business.

Market Insight: One of the biggest Exotic herbs & Spices Business in the US, McCormick & Company, Inc, earns about $6.3 Billion dollars in revenue each year.

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Exotic Herbs & Spices Business

Types of Exotic Herbs & Spices

In the US & the UK, the exotic herbs and spices has been flourishing! While these spices may not be easily available in the country, importing and exporting these spices is a common practise in this industry.


Here is a list of 20 types of exotic herbs and spices:



  • Saffron
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Star Anise
  • Vanilla
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Black Pepper
  • Fenugreek
  • Sumac
  • Ras el Hanout
  • Za’atar
  • Harissa
  • Garam Masala
  • Tamarind
  • Fennel Pollen
  • Juniper Berries
  • Epazote
  • Grains of Paradise
Note: As a startup, you may or not may have the sufficient funds to buy raw materials, ingredients, or the readymade wholesale oils to sell at first, but, THAT’S OKAY! Start with herbs and spices you can afford and sell and then let your options grow as your business does.. 
Certification and Registration

Exotic Herbs and Spices Business Certificates

While essential licenses such as Business Licence, Health and Safety regulations, and Sales Tax Permits apply to almost all businesses (To read more about the licenses, ‘Click Here to read our Mini Guide’). 


Some specific licenses and permits might be needed to open an Essential Oils business in the UK and the US. Those licenses are as follows:


1. USDA Organic Certification: 

This certification ensures that the herbs and spices are grown and processed without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic certification appeals to customers concerned about the environmental impact of food production and the potential health risks of consuming synthetic chemicals.


2. Fair Trade Certification: 

This certification ensures that the farmers and workers who grow and harvest the herbs and spices are paid a fair wage and work in safe and healthy conditions. In addition, fair trade certification can appeal to customers concerned about social justice and ethical business practices.


3. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certification: 

This certification ensures that the herbs and spices are grown and processed using safe and sustainable practices. GAP certification can help to ensure product safety and reduce the risk of contamination or foodborne illness.


4. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Certification: 

This certification ensures that the herbs and spices are processed and packaged to minimize the risk of contamination or foodborne illness. HACCP certification can be important for businesses that sell products to restaurants, food manufacturers, or other companies that require strict food safety standards.


5. Kosher or Halal Certification: 

These certifications ensure that the herbs and spices are produced and processed according to Jewish or Muslim dietary laws. As a result, kosher or Halal certification can appeal to customers who adhere to these dietary restrictions.

Exotic Herbs & Spices Business

Checklist of Exotic Herbs and Spices business equipment

In an Exotic Herbs & Spices Business, getting the right equipment so you can better preserve and store your plants is very important. 

Here is a list of essential equipment that you may need for an Exotic Herbs & Spices Business 

  • Commercial grade spice grinder
  • Dehydrator or drying oven
  • Food processor or blender
  • Digital scales
  • Sealing machine
  • Mixing bowls
  • Spice jars and lids
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Label maker
  • Packaging materials (e.g. bags, boxes)
  • Industrial oven
  • Conveyors
  • Forklifts
  • Shelving units
  • Pallet jacks
  • Hand trucks
  • Freezer or refrigerator
  • Storage containers
  • Vacuum sealer
  • Metal detector
  • Industrial-sized blenders or mixers
  • Heat sealer for bags or pouches
  • Humidity control equipment for storage areas
  • Protective gear (e.g. gloves, masks) for handling hot or pungent spices
  • Pest control equipment (e.g. traps, sprays)
  • Cleaning equipment (e.g. steam cleaners, sanitizers)
  • Label applicator for automated labeling
  • Air purifiers for processing or storage areas
  • Dust collection systems for grinding or mixing areas
  • Water filtration systems for washing or cleaning herbs and spices

A typical day at an Exotic Herbs and Spices Business

1. Inspect inventory for quality and quantity
2. Clean and sanitize work areas and equipment
3. Measure and blend spices to create blends or products
4. Fill and package products in containers or pouches
5. Label and package finished products for shipment or sale
6. Communicate with suppliers and customers regarding orders or deliveries
7. Perform quality control tests on products
8. Receive and unload deliveries of raw materials
9. Develop new spice blends or products
10. Manage finances, including budgets and expenses.

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Exotic Herbs & Spices Business

Steps you can grow your Exotic Herbs & Spices Business!

Here are general step-by-step instructions for growing an Exotic Herbs & Spices Business: 


  • Expand your product line by adding new exotic herbs and spices or creating unique blends
  • Develop relationships with new suppliers to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality ingredients
  • Explore new distribution channels such as online marketplaces, specialty retailers, or international markets
  • Invest in marketing and advertising to increase brand awareness and reach new customers
  • Attend trade shows and events to network with other industry professionals and showcase your products
  • Offer educational resources and recipes to help customers understand how to use your products
  • Improve your packaging to create a more attractive and professional appearance
  • Offer promotional deals or discounts to incentivize repeat business
  • Streamline your production process to increase efficiency and reduce costs
  • Consider offering private label or custom blending services to expand your customer base

Some potential customers for your Exotic Herbs and Spices Business

1. Food enthusiasts and home cooks
2. Health-conscious consumers
3. Specialty food stores and gourmet markets
4. Restaurants and chefs
5. Tea and coffee shops
6. Herbalists and alternative medicine practitioners
7. Gift shops and online retailers
8. Travelers
9. Mixologists and bartenders
10. Global cuisine enthusiasts

Exotic Herbs & Spices Business

Shall I go for an Exotic Herbs & Spices Franchise?

Buying an existing Exotic Herbs & Spices Franchise of a recognized brand is a good idea; however, it is expensive also.

On the other hand, the franchisor will benefit you will all the existing brand image, customer loyalty, advertising, market research & strategies.

In addition, you will get guidance from the franchisor about training the workforce & ambiance of the premises. 

Some of the top Exotic Herbs and Spices Franchises in the UK and USA:


  • The Spice & Tea Exchange
  • Freshly Spiced
  • Seasoned Pioneers

  • Penzeys Spices
  • The Spice & Tea Exchange
  • Spice Rack


Yes, an Exotic Herbs & Spices Business is a good idea; the profits are rewarding. However, you need to analyze your capabilities and limitations as there is no restriction to growing.


The Exotic Herbs & Spices market has expanded due to the growing demand for these products.


Success in this business depends on local demand for your products, land and labor availability, and the ability to follow regulatory and certification systems.


Good Luck! 

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A. You can source exotic herbs and spices from international suppliers, online marketplaces, or local distributors.

A. In the US, you will need to register your business with the state, obtain a tax identification number, and possibly apply for a food establishment permit. Additionally, you may need to obtain specific permits or licenses depending on your state’s regulations. In the UK, you will need to register your business with Companies House and may need to obtain specific licenses and permits from the Food Standards Agency.

A. Consider factors such as the cost of sourcing the herbs and spices, packaging, shipping, and any other overhead costs. Additionally, research the pricing of similar products in the market to determine a competitive price.

A. Consider partnering with local food bloggers, participating in food fairs, offering discounts or promotions, and leveraging social media platforms to showcase your products.

A. Adhere to food safety regulations and best practices such as proper labelling, storage, and handling of products. Additionally, consider obtaining certifications such as HACCP or GMP to ensure food safety standards are met.

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