Allspice [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 Piment, Nelkenpfeffer
English Allspice, Pimento, Jamaica pepper
French Poivre de la Jamaïque, Piment
Spanish Pimienta
Scientific Fructus pimentae of Pimenta dioica
CN/HS number * 0904 20 ff.

(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)

Product description

Allspice is the pea-sized, berry-like, dark-red to blackish-brown, 5 – 10 cm fruit, harvested when not quite ripe, of the evergreen allspice tree (Pimenta dioica) of the myrtle (Myrtaceae) family, native to the islands of the West Indies.

The rough, slightly wrinkled husk has round indentations, in the center of which it is still possible to discern the remains of the style. The fruit contains two compartments, each with one seed.

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 mainly originate in tropical countries and 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, allspice, cardamom)
Bud and flower spices (e.g. cloves)
Bark spices (e.g. cinnamon)
Root spices (ginger, turmeric)
Leaf spices (bay leaf)

Allspice is so named because its aroma resembles a mixture of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Other, vernacular names for allspice include pimento and Jamaica pepper, but these are not used commercially.

Oil content: 2.0 – 5.0% essential oils, in particular allspice berry oil [1]

Quality / Duration of storage

The best known, highest quality allspice is that sold as Jamaica allspice FAQ (fair average quality), which is cultivated in plantations, while lower quality allspice from Central America (Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala) is harvested from wild trees in almost inaccessible regions.

Allspice is sold either graded by size or ungraded.

Provided that the recommended storage conditions are complied with, allspice may be kept for up to 24 months.

Intended use

Allspice is used as a spice domestically and in the pharmaceutical and food industries (bakery and sausage products, sauces, fish and meat dishes) and is the most popular pickling spice. The essential oil contained in allspice (allspice berry oil) is used to season bitter liqueurs.


(Click on the Figure to enlarge it.)

Photo, allspice

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.

Asia India
America Jamaica, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba

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Allspice is transported in, among other things, flat jute fabric bags (e.g. Jamaica: 65 kg, Central America: 50 kg).

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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

3.54 m3/t (flat bags of jute fabric, 65 kg) [1], [14]
3.34 – 3.62 m3/t (bags) [11]

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

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

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

Allspice 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 tropical sun and, at temperatures of > 25°C, essential oils may be lost.

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RF Humidity/Moisture

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

Designation Humidity/water content Source
Relative humidity 60 – 70% [1]
Water content 12 – 15% [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, but the product may sometimes be reconditioned (e.g. in the event of ship sweat damage), although it will not regain its original value. Moisture has a deleterious effect on aroma and quality. Once allspice berries have become soft, reconditioning is generally impossible. A good storage life is achieved with a water content of < 12%.

Allspice 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.

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RF Ventilation

Allspice 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

Allspice displays 3rd order biotic activity.

Allspice 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: 2.0 – 5.0% essential oils, in particular allspice berry oil [1]

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RF Odor

Active behavior Allspice has an odor which resembles several spices, hence its name.

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 Allspice is highly odor-sensitive.

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RF Contamination

Active behavior Allspice does not cause contamination.
Passive behavior Allspice is sensitive to contamination by dust, dirt, fats and oils. Allspice may only contain up to 5% overripe, black, soft grains. No Pimenta racemosa fruits from the bay rum tree must be mixed in with it. Allspice stalks reduce the quality of the allspice.

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RF Mechanical influences

Allspice is fragile and must therefore be handled with appropriate care.

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

Natural evaporation of the intrinsic moisture content of the product may result in slight weight loss, if the product has not been adequately dried.

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RF Insect infestation / Diseases

Allspice may be infested by flour beetles, almond moths or sawtoothed grain beetles.

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