Why Is Cardamom So Expensive?

Cardamom is a spice that is consumed for its delicious flavor and used for its medicinal properties.

This multi-use spice is native to India and Indonesia but can be found all over the world.

Cardamom is listed in the top 10 most expensive spice in the world, falling behind other spices such as vanilla, cumin, and saffron.

Cardamom costs over $30 per pound, which is quite pricey considering other spices such as cinnamon and clove are only about $5 per pound.

But, why is cardamom so expensive? You may ask yourself when contemplating a purchase.

Cardamom is expensive because it can only be grown in certain regions of the world and must be hand-picked when it is ready to be harvested. The cardamom pods ripen at different times making the picking process extensive and expensive.

Cardamom harvesters must individually search for the ripened pods and pick them one at a time.

This process takes much more time than harvesting other spices such as ginger, which simply needs to be dug up.

Cardamom has a unique flavor profile that is described as being a mix of citrus and mint, with a touch of spice. It is a warm spice that pairs well with sweet fruits and red meat.

Throughout this article, we are going to explore more about cardamom. You will learn why it is expensive and if it is worth the extra expense.

Cost To Harvest and Sell Cardamom

Cardamom plants are grown in warm climates around the world. It requires a lengthy amount of time to mature, sometimes up to 3 years!

Because cardamom needs ample time and resources to grow, more money goes into its production. Therefore, increasing the cost for the consumer.

The cost to produce one acre of cardamom breaks down into the cost of preparing the land, the cost of seeds, the cost of manure and fertilizer, the cost of irrigation, and the cost of labor.

When added together, the cost to produce one acre of cardamom is around $2,500!

One acre of planted seeds produces about 300 pounds of cardamom. The break-even price for production is already almost a whopping $9 per pound!

This does not include the shipping cost to whichever country is consuming the exotic spice!

Once the cost of shipping is factored in, plus a premium for each handler to make a profit, the cost for the consumer at wholesale is upwards of $25 per pound.

Black Cardamom Price

Black cardamom has a smokey flavor that is similar to paprika. This variety is harvested when it is fully mature.

Black Caedamom

It is dried out and used in its pod form. The pods are about 2 inches long and they are dark brown to black in color.

Black cardamom is about $28 per pound of pods.

Green Cardamom Price

Cardamom has two varieties, the second type is green cardamom, sometimes it is also known as white cardamom if it has been bleached.

This variety is the most commonly used in cooking and baking.

Green cardamom is harvested before it is fully mature. The pods must be hand picked to ensure they are not fully ripe. The pods are small and light green in color.

Green cardamom is more expensive than black cardamom. The cost of green cardamom is about $32 per pound of pods.

Green cardamom typically costs about $5 more per pound than black cardamom.

The reason for the price difference is due to the extra labor needed at the time of harvesting since black pods can be picked without looking for unripened pods.

Ground Cardamom Price

The cost will also increase if the cardamom is ground. The grinding process adds another layer to production which takes more time, labor, and resources.

The price for ground cardamom is around $39 per pound.

Reasons Why Cardamom Is Expensive

Cardamom is a relatively new spice in western culture. This spice has been used in Asia and Northern Africa for centuries in curries, pastries, and other cuisines.

Cardamom has only been popular in North America for a few years.

Cardamom is primarily grown in India, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Nepal. One acre of cardamom only produces about 300 pounds of the spice, depending on the age of the plant.

Each fruit from the cardamom plant must be individually harvested when they are just about to ripen.

This process is done by hand, not by machine, making it more costly due to the increased amount of labor.

Because of the limited supply, labor-intensive process, and heightened demand by western society, the price has increased to almost $30 per pound!

As stated above, cardamom takes a lot of time and resources to grow into maturity.

These factors increase the price tremendously, but there are also other causes for the increased price point.

Demand

The demand for cardamom has grown in the past years worldwide.

The addition of Indian and Indonesian restaurants across North America has increased the demand for cardamom. The raised need for the spice has also increased its price.

Growing Limitations

Cardamom can only be grown in moist and warm climates with fertile soil. This limits where the spice can grow.

Growth limitations cause a smaller amount produced, increasing the price.

Labor

Each fruit or pod that grows on the cardamom plant matures at a different rate. Because of the difference, they must be harvested individually by hand.

The specific labor needed for each harvest adds a higher cost to the overall spice.

Unique Flavor

Cardamom has a unique flavor profile that differentiates it from other spices. Since it is a one of a kind product, it is more valuable.

Medicinal Uses

Cardamom has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The medicinal properties of this warm spice has been tested my doctors and scientists.

Some studies show that cardamom improves glucose intolerance, helps to prevent obesity, and helps with inflammation.

Nutrient Dense

Cardamom not only has a unique flavor profile, but it is also packed with vitamins and essential nutrients.

Cardamom contains a high amount of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.

It Takes A Time To Harvest

Cardamom takes years to produce pods that can be harvested to sell and consume. It can take up to three years before a cardamom farmer can profit from this plant.

How To Save Money On Cardamom

If you are interested in buying cardamom, you may want to be interested in getting it for the best price.

There are a few suggestions that may help you save money on this premium spice.

Buy Directly From A Farm

Buying your cardamom directly from someone who grows it themselves will cut the cost of shipping and the cost that the grocery store adds to make a profit.

Fresh Green Cardamom

Grow It Yourself

While you may not live in the right climate to grow cardamom yourself, it is possible to grow this plant indoors. Growing it yourself will drastically reduce the cost of the product.

Is Cardamom Worth The Premium Cost?

Cardamom has a very specific flavor, which is unique and sought after. But, its cost can really set you back.

Even a small amount of cardamom will cost upwards of $10!

The cost of the spice can cost more than the ingredients for the whole meal. Which to me, doesn’t make it worth the cost.

If you enjoy this spice, I would recommend using it sparingly.

Cheaper Alternatives For Cardamom

If you crave the warm and spicy flavors of cardamom, there are alternative spices that can deliver similar flavors.

Spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric are all warm spices that give you a similar taste but are a fraction of the price.

You can compare the prices of these spices to the price of cardamom below.

Cheaper AlternativesPriceAmount
Cardamom$301 Lb
Ginger$.851 Lb
Cinnamon$61 Lb
Turmeric$31 Lb

Is Cardamom A Waste Of Money?

Cardamom isn’t a waste of money if you use it sparingly and not on a daily basis.

It can give people a sense of home, or a new food experience which can be worth the extra expense.

Since cardamom is such a strong spice, a little bit can go a long way.

If you buy cardamom, you can choose to use it wisely and make it last, allowing it to last longer and be worth the extra cost.

Final Considerations

Cardamom is a unique spice that is generally grown outside of the United States. It requires years of care and irrigation to harvest a full yield of the product.

The extra care that cardamom requires increases the price significantly.

If you are interested in buying or using cardamom, do it wisely. Buy it at a price point that you can afford and use it in limited amounts.

If you can’t afford this premium product, try similar alternatives that don’t set you back financially.

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