Lemongrass is a tender perennial grass, which is native to India, but also cultivated in other tropical areas, particularly Brazil, Sri Lanka and parts of central Africa. After harvesting, grass is finely chopped to facilitate the extraction of the essential oil by steam distillation.
Lemongrass is widely used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisine and also as a medicinal herb in India. It has a subtle citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. It is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries.
Cymbopogon flexuosus is a fast-growing and lemon-scented grass, which may reach a height of 1 m. It has unusual, dark-green foliage and also produces seeds.
The main chemical component of lemongrass oil is citral.
2017 saw a balanced market with no shortage in supply. 2018 started on a note of expected price rises as supplies continued to remain weak. In a repeat of the last decade, the situation for lemongrass remains stagnant, except for the occasional spikes in volumes that cannot be covered without planning six to nine months in advance. This is mainly due to scarcity of litsea cubeba oil, which is used to make natural citral. Stakeholders are hesitant to give clarity on the dynamics of the market in the coming months but arrangements are being made to boost stock volume to cater to a growing customer base.
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