The AHPA is calling on as many herbal producers as possible to complete the survey, saying: "To support the herb industry's continuing sustainable harvest of these plants we need to quantify our use. Also, current harvest data is obviously essential in planning for future use"
"Primary suppliers of raw materials have a vested interest in continuing the harvest of plants in a manner that assures their use by generations to come. By working together in this manner, the community of companies who are in the business of herbs can gain valuable information that helps us all to plan for growth and stability."
The four previous surveys already provide an interesting and valuable insight into North American wild-harvested plants.
The most harvested dried plant in 2002-03 was saw palmetto 1200 tons, coming exclusively from wild sources. Black cohosh was the second most harvested plant, with 159 tons from wild sources and 0.2 tons from cultivated sources.
Also in the top-five were slippery elm (100 tons from exclusively wild sources), cascara sagrada (83 tons from only wild sources), and Echinacea angustifolia root (32 tons from wild, 23 tons from cultivation).
Interestingly, the harvest of fresh herbs came predominantly from cultivation. Goldenseal, listed in Appendix II of the Convention for International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1997, is harvested mostly from cultivation rather than wild gathering.
In 2000, two tons of goldenseal root were harvested from the wild, while 0.5 tons came from cultivated sources. By 2003, three tons were cultivated, with 1.5 tons coming from the wild.
"Several species for which there are large market demands are cultivated to a sufficient degree so that some meaningful portion of the total usage is provided by farmers rather than by harvesters of wild plants… This is particularly relevant to the goldenseal root market," concluded the 2002-2003 survey.
Steven Dentali, PhD, AHPA's vice president for scientific and technical affairs told NutraIngredients-USA: "If you go back through the older surveys, you can notice a reflection of harvests on the market demand for herbs. There was a peak around 1998 to 1999 which then fell off and stabilized, much like we saw in the market."
Questions regarding the survey should be addressed to Steven Dentali, PhD.