Peppermint oil is extracted by steam distillation from the dried herb of Mentha piperita. The plant is native to Europe but is now cultivated in many parts of the world. The largest producers are America, China and India, with India producing around 600-700MT per annum (2014/15).
It grows in the traditional 'Mint Regions' of India, which are the north and north west areas of the country.
India's piperita exports in 2014 were approximately 400MT with Europe seen as the biggest buyer (France and UK totalling 43%) whilst the USA took 30% of India's exports.
Peppermint has a wide variety of uses across many sectors but is most commonly seen in products such as teas, candy, chocolate, aromatherapy, oral care, chewing gums and insect repellents.
Peppermint is also known for its health benefits including the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive complaints.
The market for M. piperita (peppermint) oil seems to be quite stable at present with quite a steady demand. But, there is a dearth of good quality material. The current prices of Indian peppermint are paralleling the lower farm level prices of US markets. Naturally, the USA export scenario is highly discouraging as far as Indian exports are concerned. However, as a result of duty differentials, a significant amount is diverted to China. This has helped to maintain a reasonably continuous demand in the market. The M. piperita season began from the middle of January and extended until February. As a result, the current crop was almost 20 days later than usual. This year, going by the crop estimates coming in from the growing regions, the acreage for the M. piperita crop is predicted to go down by a significant 30%. Early March reveals a clearer picture once the crop starts developing. Considering the news of new plantation root holdings and comparing last year’s figures, it is hoped that 2019 will fare better. Also 2018 saw the prices of Mentha arvensis (cornmint) oil shoot up in comparison to M. piperita; so this year farmers are more inclined to favour M.arvensis. Currently there is an adequate amount of synthetic peppermint and the carryover is decent. M.piperita containing 1.7% menthofuran continues to enjoy robust demand, which has inched up day by day. The oil blend is prepared with P&N M. piperita oil having higher furan content as one of its key ingredients, which is mixed with some derivatives of natural M. arvensis oil. In the current situation, it is advised to book orders to cover present requirements.
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