Chia seed: the new super trendy food on the market. In this article, we will discover the history of these small seeds. We offer you a complete study of the harvesting and cleaning processes of the product as well as a detailed presentation of the universe and the specificities of these seeds. In addition, an exclusive interview with one of our partner producers to learn more about growing these seeds in Mexico, their home territory.
Our company SEJUM GROUP sells organic and conventional chia seeds from Mexico. We have our own chia seed cleaning and selection centre. Together with our partner farmers, we pass the seeds through a precise manufacturing process, thus guaranteeing superior quality for our seeds. For more information about our seeds: firstname.lastname@example.org
To begin with, we have to go back centuries. At the time, the Aztecs cultivated massive amounts of chia seeds for their personal consumption. It was one of their main sources of food and today, a multitude of farmers still harvest these small seeds around the world. But it remains mainly on the American continent where exploitation is the most important.
Let’s continue with a short description of the product itself: These are small seeds measuring barely 1 mm or two in size with no odour and no dominant taste. They are generally black and white in colour and have a firm but supple consistency. Both organic and conventional, these gluten-free seeds are easy to consume and constitute a real daily energy boost!
It turns out that chia seeds continue to be cultivated because of their virtues. Indeed, we have observed that when an individual consumes this superfood on a daily basis, he can eventually observe positive effects on his body due to their high nutrient and fibre content. They have a high content of proteins, calcium, iron, Omega 3 and antioxidants. Chia seeds are beneficial for the cardiovascular system, skin, teeth, bones and brain. They also facilitate transit, endurance, memory, sleep, stress reduction or weight loss.
These seeds with multiple benefits can even prevent certain diseases such as diabetes or even certain cancers. This is one of the reasons why they are becoming more and more popular.
The main place of operation is Mexico. The Mexican state is clearly establishing itself on the world market with a significant production of chia seeds. A market that is proving to be booming. Indeed, there has been strong growth since 2013 when chia seeds were approved in the EU. This has resulted in the democratization of these seeds within the EU. The import rate has never been so high in the past.
In the production process, the seeds are first cleaned by passing through sieves and in a densitometric table for more accurate seed sorting. Afterwards, the seeds are carefully selected before being packed and exported by sea.
We also asked a few questions to one of our Mexican partner farmers about chia seeds, here is a report of this exchange:
– Hello Mr Paredes, first, could you introduce yourself and explain what your job is?
Hello, my name is Ramon Paredes, I am a chia seed producer in the Acatic region of Mexico. I am the director of a group of farmers in a cooperative in the Los Altos de Jalisco region. My mission is to gather chia seeds from different producers, which we then clean up in order to guarantee a certain quality for these seeds and to market them.
– Tell us in detail about the production process of these famous chia seeds:
As for the production process of chia seeds, it follows a certain temporality. Indeed, we start planting them between July 1st and 15th. It then takes about 150 days for the seeds to flower and be harvested. Finally, the harvest can be carried out either from 1 to 15 November or during December at the same periods.
– How would you define a good harvest?
We have a good harvest if we get around 800 kg/hectare of yield. Some years we can get up to 1.5 Tonnes/hectare and others, if there has been a lot of bad weather for example, we can only get 200kg/hectare. In addition, I would define a good harvest if we have an average yield of 900 kg/hectare. Knowing that it is imperative that it does not rain or freeze from November 1, either when the harvest begins because otherwise the seed cleaning process that will follow will be more complicated because the chia seeds must be completely dry before passing through a sieve. Therefore, we will not be able to obtain chia seeds of perfect quality if the weather is not good.
– How are chia seeds different from other seed varieties such as poppy seeds for example?
Chia seeds contain a lot of fibre and are very small seeds. If we compare chia seeds with other seeds such as corn, for example, the yield of the latter is about 10 T/hectare while it is 800kg for chia seeds. So, we can truly see that there is a big difference in terms of yield, which is why chia seeds are a very special product providing a lot of vitamins, omega-3, omega-9 and fibre. All these elements allow consumers to have a better quality of life, to feel better in general and that is why in my opinion chia seed differs from other seeds.
– What do you think about the evolution and democratization of chia seeds in the world?
I think that chia seed is a food that is still too little known in the world. The fact that there is no flavour in it, it can therefore be associated with a multitude of dishes and foods of all kinds. It is a food that can be added to a normal cuisine, which is its great strength. In other words, people who want to live better and healthier lives can consume chia seeds without any problem. That is why I believe that these seeds have great potential to become even better known.
– What future do you see for Mexican chia seeds?
First, the original Mexican chia seed has almost “extinguished” because it dates back to the Aztecs. With the wars of religion and colonization, chia seed production was on the verge of extinction and was mainly refocused in the centre of the country, in the Acatic region. Then, what makes the Mexican chia seed the best is that their production is really natural. In other words, it respects the seasons and weather conditions (where harvesting is generally done with the arrival of the first rains). To make the comparison with other chia seed producing countries, most of them produce seeds that go against the seasons, i.e. a year-round production, which we do not do. That’s why Mexican chia seeds have higher levels of omega and are better for your health. In addition, the drying process of chia seeds in other countries that do not follow the seasonal cycle for harvesting, use pesticides to dry the seeds, which is bad for health. At the same time, the process of Mexican chia seeds can be compared to tequila. That is to say that a good Mexican chia seed is like a tequila, it does not come from other parts of the world but from the region where it was created with ancestral manufacturing processes in the constant respect of nature for a superior quality.
– To which country do you export the most chia seeds?
We export chia seed almost everywhere in the world. With SEJUM, we mainly export to China and Europe. We work with major companies in the sector that export to Dubai and the rest of the world. The majority of the chia seeds we produce, I would say about 95% to 98%, are destined for export because they are recognized as having an outstanding quality.
– How do Mexican chia seeds differ from other chia seeds?
There is not much difference between Mexican chia seeds and those of other countries except for the production method. As I explained earlier, the Mexican production process is natural. Our way of producing is done without the use of pesticides or other treatments that other countries use to dry their seeds. However, these herbicides can develop fungi and diseases on chia seeds. What we do in Mexico is that we respect the seasonal cycle and when we bring our seeds to our place of production directly after harvest, there is only 8% moisture in our seeds. Drying therefore does not require the use of pesticides, which guarantees us an undeniable seed quality.
– Do you personally consume chia seeds, if so, what are the potential effects that have affected your body?
Yes, I eat chia seeds. Generally, I try to eat it at breakfast, but being somewhat disorganized, I don’t eat it every day because I sometimes forget. I notice that these seeds are very effective in fighting cholesterol, it allows me to effectively regulate the sugar level in my body. I also see that there are positive effects on my digestive tract. I went to the hospital the day before yesterday, and at 39 years old I am in very good health and I think it is mainly due to the consumption of chia seeds.
– How do you see the evolution of chia seed production in Mexico compared to other producing countries?
For me, there is a great capacity to produce more in Mexico. However, we are limited because there are no major companies that favour buying from the producer. There is therefore a problem with the sale of Mexican chia seeds, although they are the best in the world due to their quality and meticulous production process. It is a time-consuming process, so yields are sometimes lower than in other countries. Of course, they are of a higher quality but remain less competitive in terms of price than countries producing year-round. If there were assistance from the Mexican government or companies that could promote Mexican chia seeds, chia seed production could be an alternative for farmers who would not have to grow other products in parallel such as corn seeds. The latter could focus exclusively on the cultivation of chia seeds, where the industry could become very powerful. It would also help improve the cleaning process in small cooperatives to ensure quality chia seeds throughout Mexico.