Q&A with Joe Fuchs, Purchasing Manager

Posted by Rebekah Wicke on 6/6/17


A native of the Baltimore area, Joe Fuchs has been in the spice and seasoning industry since he was 19 years old. This month, he’ll be celebrating 22 years at Fuchs, where he holds the role of purchasing manager. 


Q: What's going on in the spice market these days?
A: Whenever we are talking about the spice market, it’s interesting because we have got more variables that come into play now versus fifteen or twenty years ago. Buying spices has become a lot like buying stock.

Cumin seed, for example, was expected to have 25% larger harvest this year than last year, and prices were expected to go down. The largest growing area in India got hit by heavy rain and hail, which wiped out a portion of that crop, and that means that cumin seed is going to increase in price. We’re still thinking the price will go down, but we didn’t expect it to firm up three to four months ago. So, cumin could become a challenge this year. Cinnamon prices right now are unprecedented. It was always probably the cheapest spice out there. Domestic garlic also became a challenge this year as well. The good news is that the black pepper market continues to slide, and prices are down versus last year. Vietnam had a good black pepper crop this year.

Q: You recently attended the American Spice Trade Association annual conference. What were some key takeaways from that?
A: ASTA gives us the opportunity to catch up with colleagues from all over the world, so this conference, for me, is a very busy time. It was a great opportunity to catch up with people who I don’t normally meet with in person because they are miles and miles away. This year’s attendance broke the four hundred mark, and more people have been taking an interest in ASTA recently. For me, as a buyer, the crop reports are the most interesting part of the conference. In terms of takeaways, many of the presentations were geared towards addressing the new regulations with FSMA, the regulatory reform agenda as a whole, and food safety issues.

Q: What would you like our customers to know about our purchasing department?
A: We are here for our customers; that’s the bottom line. We will work hard for our customers to do what is right for them. As buyers, we’re really working for both sides; for both Fuchs and for our customers to make sure that we’re getting quality products. If you think about it, our finished product becomes our customers’ ingredient, so we really are an extension of our customer. You may not be able to buy a Fuchs seasoning off the shelf, but pick up a potato chip, and that’s who Fuchs North America is.

Q: What's your favorite part of your role here at Fuchs?
A: I like the challenge of the changing markets. No two days are exactly the same. It can be maddening, but it’s never boring. I also enjoy working with people around the world, and finding a middle ground with them to get the job done.


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Tags: Spices