Cassia & Cinnamon

The Introduction of Cassia & Cinnamon

pepper sketchThe term 'cinnamon' is commonly (and confusingly) used to cover 2 distinct products – cinnamon, and cassia – and a range of species. Cinnamon and cassia are the dried bark of a tree. Properly, the product cinnamon (or true cinnamon) comes from the species Cinnamomum zeylanicum (syn. C. verum); the product cassia comes from a number of species, depending on the country of origin, the principal ones of which are Cinnamomum cassia (SE China); C. burmannii (Indonesia); C. loureirii (Vietnam). In this note, cinnamon will be taken to refer to C. zeylanicum, and cassia to the other species. In general, the product can be identified by the origin, since origins produce predominantly one, or the other. Although cinnamon and cassia are frequently considered as equivalents in that both are used for the same purposes and one can replace the other in usage, there are both important differences (physical and chemical, translating into appearance and flavor) between the 2 products, and additional differences within the different cassia species themselves.

The markets generally have a distinct preference or requirement for one over the other, and whilst a part of this can be attributed to tradition (the historical linkages to one origin in a market, for instance), the flavor difference between the products is such that the market consumer may not accept replacement of cassia with the cinnamon or vice versa and the supply of different origins of cassia may also present issues of flavour/taste with consumers. Cassia and Cinnamon

In physical appearance, cinnamon is generally a light brown colour, and the colour may be further lightened by fumigation with sulphur. It is prepared as complex 'quills' – rolled into long tubes composed of a number of layers of more or less thin bark – and a complex system of grading is used primarily based on the thickness of the bark used. These quills are the value added product. Ground product is generally made from bits of bark that cannot be made into quills.

By contrast, cassia types have a thicker bark, darker in colour, and when lengths of this are dried they curl into simple tubes ('sticks') made of a single layer of bark. Much of the trade is in 'broken pieces', rather than the sticks/quills. Cassia is a coarser, more robust product than the cinnamon quill, well suited to be included in cooking and industrial food preparation as it will not break easily; and the lack of value addition in producing the simple dried product provides a low cost raw material product for grinding to supply the markets for powder.

The Introduction of Cassia & Cinnamon

The trade in cinnamon and cassia is a large volume global trade. The products come from different species, and there are notable physical and chemical differences between the products, leading to strong consumer preferences for one or the other, but they are both used in the same way and for the same purpose – as a spice to flavour foods, and medicinally for their health properties.

"Total global export trade is in the range 90,000 tonnes, and valued in the range US$100-120 million. The trade is primarily in the whole product (quills, sticks); trade in ground product is less than 10% of the total volume.

The major origins for cassia supply are Indonesia, China and Vietnam, with Indonesia and China dominating supply with export volumes of around 35,000 tonnes each. Indonesia dominates supply to the Western markets; China to Asian and Middle East markets."
(Source: Unctad 2007)

Product Details...

BM Uniproducts supplies Cassia from Indonesia, in the following Grades and Quality:

  • ▪ KBBC ( Korinci B Broken Cleaned ),
  • ▪ KABC ( Korinci A Broken Cleaned ),
  • ▪ Cassia Vera A or AA Cut ( 6 – 7 – 8 – 20 cm ),
  • ▪ Cassia Vera AA available in Special Quality as Calibrated in thickness.