The Cassia Cinnamon Scare

By Chong Sheau Ching
Aug 5, 2018

The increasing rate of diabetes is fueling the demand for cinnamon which increases insulin sensitivity. The prevalence of high blood pressure, gynecological issues, respiratory illnesses and digestive problems from sedentary urban living is expected to fuel demand for cinnamon.  Cinnamon is also anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-fungal. In addition, it is rich in antioxidants!

The health food industry is a multi-billion dollar, very lucrative industry with thousands of products which are supposed to be good for us. Leading market players operating in the global cinnamon market include Pure Ceylon Cinnamon, Adam Group, Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd., HDDES Group, SDS SPICES (PVT) LTD., Ceylon Spice Company, Elite Spice, First Spice Mixing Company, C.F. Sauer Company, EHL Ingredients and McCormick Spices. Note that all of these companies are based in English-speaking countries.

According to Persistence Market Research, the global cinnamon market is expected to represent a value of over 3.5 million US dollars by the end of 2026. Indonesia and China produced 75% of the world's cinnamon in 2016 when global production was 223,574 tonnes.  Four countries accounted for 99% of the world total: Indonesia, China, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. (Source: Wikipedia). Sri Lanka produces the least amount of cinnamon among the four countries.

Currently, cinnamon powder is one of the new health products in vogue. Ground cinnamon is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin Kcalcium, and iron, while providing moderate amounts (10 to 19% DV) of vitamin B6vitamin Emagnesium, and zinc.  A health food trend is to take a teaspoon of cinnamon powder daily one to three times daily.

This is a great way to sell cinnamon!! If you can be convinced of consuming cinnamon daily (vs consuming it only in minute amounts in teas or soups), you will surely purchase more cinnamon per month and per year! A few videos on the Internet about a product and some paid advertising campaigns targeted to the right group of netizens will net any marketing company millions of sales revenue per year. 

The cinnamon powder market alone is a multi-million dollar market with Chinese Cassia cinnamon dominating markets in America and Europe. Sri Lanka is a relatively new player in the cinnamon powder market.

Several You-Tube videos in English, searched globally, are produced by marketing companies in the West. They educate consumers about cinnamon’s benefits, but they all focus on stating that ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ as the only ’TRUE’ cinnamon.  They discard the health benefits of cinnamon produced in other countries by raising the possibility of liver damage if one consumes too much of the blood-thinning compound, ‘coumarin’, which is higher in concentration in Cassia cinnamon.

This is a typical video produced to market Ceylon cinnamon. The word ‘true cinnamon’ has been coined to market Ceylon cinnamon at a higher price in the international market. The Ceylon cinnamon industry gets multi-million dollar sales annually, hence, portraying Cassia cinnamon-- its biggest competitor -- as NOT the ‘TRUE cinnamon.’  Such communication gimmick facilitates sales of highly profitable products such as cinnamon powder.

By conducting the cyber information campaign against non-Ceylon products especially Cassia cinnamon from China, Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka gains a foot hold in the global cinnamon market.

Remember Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016?  His communication advisors got him to say short, impactful phrases to label Hilary as a corrupt, incompetent, or ailing presidential candidate. When an influential person such as a TV star like Trump says something repeatedly, people will believe that what he says is TRUE, and they will remember the key phrases.  For example, ‘Lock her up’ were the three words to summarize the retaliation to all the ‘crimes’ Hilary committed.   Whenever Trump and his associates wanted to attack Hilary, they used these three words to remind the audience that Hilary is a ‘crook’.  The audience remembered this slogan and thus refused to accept any information that revealed that the ‘crimes’ were fake or blown out-of-proportion. 

This is the kind of communication game played in the real world and it is very effective in the cyberworld to frighten consumers who are into health foods.

Here is what you get when you are on the Internet seeking information about cinnamon: queries about cinnamon in Internet forums, ‘Question and Answer’ websites, and on You Tube videos in English ---- all of them tell you that Ceylon cinnamon is the only TRUE cinnamon.

This leads you to think that all other cinnamons are ‘NOT GOOD, ’ including Bario cinnamon!  If you are taking cinnamon for health, especially cinnamon powder, you will CHOOSE to buy only the REAL cinnamon from Sri Lanka.

Here is the catch: Do you know if any of the Ceylon cinnamon you buy from the health food store is really from Sri Lanka and that it is organic? No pesticides? No chemical fertilizers? Can a cinnamon plantation, which plants new cinnamon trees every two years or so, rely on the same soil to fertilize the trees year after year without doing anything to beef up soil nutrients? What is the quickest, cheapest way to fertilize the soil?

Contrary to plantation cinnamon, a Bario cinnamon tree grows amidst other flora and fauna in the thick rainforests. The biodiversity state fertilizes the soil and naturally prevents any pests from hurting it. The water it absorbs comes from the clean sky, or flows from the surrounding mountains.

A Bario cinnamon tree wrapped and surrounded by all its friends, soaking in the sunlight, channeling the pure water from the ground and the goodness of the earth into its bark


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