Citronella oil is extracted from a grass (Cymbopogon winteranus) native to Sri Lanka, Java (Indonesia) and China. The species Cymbopogon winteranus is used for the production of citronella oil by steam distillation.
Citronella is commonly used in soaps, candles, perfumes and other products in the cosmetic industry. It is also a plant based, non-toxic insect repellant, registered for this use in the United States since 1948. You will find it listed in many topical products.
As a perfumery ingredient it has been historically well represented due to its citronellal, citronellol and geraniol content.
China is the world's largest exporter of citronella oil (Indonesia being second). It is estimated that total world production of citronella is around 4,000 tons with China and Indonesia representing a 40% share of this volume.
Historically China has had a lower cost basis for this product and as a result is the dominant producer.
Based on unconfirmed data China's citronella exports can be summarised as follows:
Competition from the Indonesian market has affected demand. Domestic production has been falling annually. The main production areas of citronella are in Yuhan, which is close to the border. A few of these border areas have been hit by the pandemic, making it difficult for the oil to flow into the Chinese market, though with volumes coming in from Burma the crop will still be in the range of 300 MT.
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