Fennel seed [German version]

Table of contents

Product information
  Container transport
  Cargo securing

Risk factors and loss prevention:
Temperature Odor
Humidity/Moisture Contamination
Ventilation Mechanical influences
Biotic activity Toxicity / Hazards to health
Gases Shrinkage/Shortage
Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion Insect infestation / Diseases

Product information

Product name

German Fenchel
English Fennel seed
French Fenouil
Spanish Hinojo
Scientific Foeniculum vulgare
CN/HS number * 0909 50 ff.

(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)

Product description

Fennel seeds are the ripe, dried, gray-green striped to yellowish brown schizocarpic fruits (4 – 10.5 mm long, 2 – 4 mm wide) of the fennel bush, which is of Mediterranean origin and belongs to the Umbelliferae family. Obtained from this aromatic and medicinal plant, the seeds emit a pleasant odor, are highly aromatic and have a pungent flavor.

The term spice is used to refer to plant parts which serve to improve the odor and flavor of foods. They contain essential oils and other ingredients which have a strong seasoning action.

Spices are processed, cleaned, graded and carefully packaged for overseas dispatch in the countries where they are cultivated. They are dried to preserve them for transport and storage. In consumer countries, they are delivered to spice mills, where they are cleaned and graded again, ready for sale in unground or ground form.

Spices are classified by the plant parts used:

Fruit and seed spices (e.g. pepper, cardamom, fennel seed)
Bud and flower spices (e.g. cloves)
Bark spices (e.g. cinnamon)
Root spices (ginger, turmeric)
Leaf spices (bay leaf)

Oil content: 5.0 – 6.5% essential oils [1], in particular fenchone and anethole.

Quality / Duration of storage

„Combed“ fennel seed is harvested by hand or using a comb. „Straw“ fennel seed is harvested after the first frost and is therefore of lower grade.

Fennel seed may be kept for approx. 12 months if the recommended storage conditions are complied with.

Intended use

Fennel seed is used as a seasoning in bread and pastries and in candies and also for medicinal purposes (fennel oil and fennel tea for infants).


(Click on the Figure to enlarge it.)

Photo, fennel seeds

Figure 1

Countries of origin

This Table shows only a selection of the most important countries of origin and should not be thought of as exhaustive.

Europe Southern Italy, Southern France, Spain, Greece, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain
Africa North Africa
Asia India, Far East, Asia Minor, China
America Argentina, USA

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Fennel seed is packaged in jute fabric bags (50 kg), among other things.

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Symbol, general cargo

General cargo

Means of transport

Ship, truck, railroad

Container transport

Standard containers may be used, subject to compliance with lower limits for water content of goods, packaging and container flooring.

Cargo handling

In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture, since this may lead to mold, spoilage and self-heating.

Hooks must not be used in handling bagged goods as they subject the bags to point loads, so damaging them. Due to their shape, plate or bag hooks apply an area load and are thus more suitable for handling bags.

Stowage factor

3.00 m3/t (jute fabric bags, 50 kg) [1]
2.72 m3/t (bags, 70 kg) [14]

Stowage space requirements

Cool, dry, good ventilation


Fiber rope, thin fiber nets, wooden dunnage

Cargo securing

In order to ensure safe transport, the cargo must be stowed and secured in the means of transport in such a manner that it cannot slip or shift during transport. If loss of volume and degradation of quality are to be avoided, the packages must not be damaged by other articles or items of cargo.

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Risk factors and loss prevention

RF Temperature

Fennel seed requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

Favorable travel temperature range: 5 – 25°C [1]

Fennel seed should be transported in areas which exhibit the lowest temperatures during the voyage and are dry. In any event, storage beneath the weather deck or, in the case of shipping in containers, in the uppermost layer on deck, must be avoided as the deck or container is strongly heated by the intense solar radiation and, at temperatures of > 25°C, essential oils may be lost.

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RF Humidity/Moisture

Fennel seed requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

Designation Humidity/water content Source
Relative humidity 50 – 65% [1]
Water content approx. 10% [1]
Maximum equilibrium moisture content 65% [1]

Spices are hygroscopic goods (hygroscopicity), which interact with the moisture in the air. The risk of mold growth is naturally at its greatest in warm, damp air. The cargo may become musty, and the risk of self-heating increases with an elevated air moisture content.

Fennel seed should be stowed away from goods which are sensitive to moisture/humidity or release moisture (e.g. copra).

In order to prevent condensation on the ship’s side or container walls from affecting the cargo, care should be taken to leave a clear gap between the cargo stack and the ship’s side or container wall.

Relative humidities of the ambient air of > 75% result in mold growth.

Fennel seed must always be protected from seawater, rain and condensation water.

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RF Ventilation

Fennel seed requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

If the product is at „shipping dryness“, it does not have to be ventilated during transport. However, if the water content does not meet these guidelines, the following ventilation measures should be implemented to eliminate the potential for dampness:

Recommended ventilation conditions: air exchange rate: 6 changes/hour (airing)

In order to avoid formation of mold, the stowage space should be cool, dry and, most particularly, easy to ventilate.

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RF Biotic activity

Fennel seed displays 3rd order biotic activity.

Fennel seed belongs to the class of products in which respiration processes are suspended, but in which biochemical, microbial and other decomposition processes still proceed.

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RF Gases

No risk.

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RF Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion

An elevated moisture content and excessively high temperatures create a risk of self-heating.

Oil content: 5.0 – 6.5% essential oils [1], in particular fenchone and anethole.

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RF Odor

Active behavior Fennel seed has a strong, pleasant aniseed-like odor and flavor.

When transporting spices, it is important to retain the content of essential oils to the greatest possible extent, since these substances, together with other constituents, such as fatty oils, tannins and bitter principles, determine the odor and flavor and thus quality of the spices.

The essential oils are readily volatilized and the seasoning action of the spices is consequently reduced. Volatilization of the essential oils is primarily determined by temperature. The higher is the ambient temperature, the more the essential oils are volatilized, as may be recognized by the intense odor in the hold.

Due to the readily volatilized essential oils, spices should always be stowed separately from each other and away from foodstuffs which readily absorb foreign odors (e.g. coffee or tea).
Passive behavior Fennel seed is sensitive to goods with an unpleasant and/or pungent odor and should therefore not be stowed together with odor-emitting products (e.g. chemicals or cheese).

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RF Contamination

Active behavior Fennel seed does not cause contamination.
Passive behavior Fennel seed is sensitive to dust, dirt, fats and oils.

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RF Mechanical influences

With bagged cargo, point loads applied for example by hooks may result in damage (tears) to the bags and thus in loss of volume. Plate or bag hooks, which, due to their shape, distribute the load and reduce the risk of damage, should thus be used.

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RF Toxicity / Hazards to health

No risk.

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RF Shrinkage/Shortage

Where goods have been loaded in too moist a condition, their drying-out may result in weight loss of up to 1%. Loss of volume may be caused by damaged packages.

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RF Insect infestation / Diseases

Fennel consignments may be infested by rats, mice, beetles (in particular drugstore beetles, hump spider beetles, Australian spider beetles and golden spider beetles) and moths (dried fruit and cacao moths) and mites.

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