Why are those tiny bottles so expensive?

It happens all the time. You find an amazing recipe that you can’t wait to cook, but it has a few spices you’ve never heard of and have to go searching for in the store. While browsing the aisles of your local grocery store, you're likely to be taken back by the prices of spices. Why are those tiny bottles so expensive? Here are five reasons why you pay more for spices.

First, you have to consider where the spice came from. Certain spices only grow in specific regions and climates. If the spice’s origin has a treacherous trade route, the flavor will cost more to get into your delicious recipe.

Next, you have to remember what it costs to make the spice. Production plays a major part in what you pay. If there’s a lot of labor required to develop a seasoning, you’re going to see a price difference, which is why spices like saffron and vanilla are typically pricier. Don’t forget that spices come from plants, so they require time to pollinate, harvest and dry.

You might not realize it, but weather is another factor that plays into the price of your spices. Delicate spices like cardamom can only flourish in specific temperatures. A year of bad storms can wipe out a farmer’s crops, causing prices to jump for the rest of the limited supply. Next time, pay attention to the weather report —it may change your cooking!

Another factor in pricing is obvious but overlooked. Grocery stores may hike up the prices of your spices. Some high-end spots can add the price of shelf space or packaging to the spice’s total. Markups like these can serve to maximize a store's profit margins.

Lastly, the purity of a spice can make for a more expensive condiment. Cheaper spices could mean they contain other ingredients That doesn't mean they're fake or impure; it could just mean it has a lower potency level. But if you are paying a little more, you can be sure the ingredients are true.

Keep these facts in mind next time you’re checking out at the grocery store, and you may be less startled when you see your receipt.