Black pepper and cumin are the two top selling spices in the world. Their popularity and use in many cultures worldwide means that hundreds of thousands of tons of these spices are produced yearly.
Spices are limited to the small, dried and strongly flavored parts of a plant used in seasoning dishes. For thousands of years, spices have served as highly marketable goods. Some cultures have even used spices, such as the peppercorn, as currency. At one point, pepper was as valuable as gold.
Though the price has gone down, pepper is still the most popular spice used worldwide. It is grown primarily in Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia. These countries produce the bulk of roughly 300,000 tons of pepper grown commercially each year. The exact amount varies between mid 300 thousands to high 200 thousands depending on the demand and potential crop failure.
Cumin comes in at a very close second in terms of worldwide production. Cultivated since at least 2,000 B.C., cumin has been a staple for much of modern human history. It is estimated that there are about 300,000 tons of cumin produced commercially each year. Cumin has been one of the primary seasonings in many Middle-Eastern, Northern African and Indian cultures.