The herb and spice sector is to get its first set of global quality standards to give added assurance to consumers and encourage more growers into the “booming” market.

The sector had enjoyed rapid growth in recent decades thanks to burgeoning demand from Asia and increased recognition of the Health and culinary benefits, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said.

The standards will be developed by the Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs, which met for the first time this week in India.

Standards were in place for some herbs and spices, but there had previously been no global body providing product-specific, harmonised quality standards, the UNFAO said.

“With such a diverse range of byproducts and uses, booming international demand and expanding areas of production, the need for international standards is clear,” it added.

Internationally accepted production standards would build trust for consumers and reassure importers that products met specs, the UNFAO said. Standards would also provide clarity for farmers on what they should be growing, and to what standard.

“Codex wants to contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of the international herb and spice trade,” said Ren Wang of the UNFAO agriculture and consumer protection department.

The CCSCH will focus on the most important spices and culinary herbs, including rosemary, thyme, basil, black pepper and nutmeg.