Petitgrain oil is produced from the leaves and twigs of the bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium amara), a member of the Rutaceae plant family.
These evergreen trees can grow up to 6 metres in the wild, but will only grow to half this height in cultivation.
It is mainly distilled by small farmers and delivered in small quantities to local traders (collectors), who then test, batch and resell the product to export houses. Harvesting and distillation is done between the months of October and March.
The tree produces a distinctive 'double leaf', which has a small bulge at the base of the main leaf. Its fruit is used to flavour liqueurs, such as Grand Mariner and Triple sec, and its flowers provide neroli and orange blossom oils, It is also used widely in perfumery for its strong, bitter-sweet, citrusy odour with floral and woody notes.
Paraguay is the dominant producer of petitgrain oil and in recent years annual production has ranged between 180 – 200 tonnes, accounting for over 80% of global output. Almost all the oil is exported.
Prices remain firm despite the start of the new season as recently as October 2017. No carry over supplies from the previous season had seen prices rise and current demands exceed the rate of production. The lack of stock in the pipeline during the off season became a huge problem in 2017 and this looks set to continue as orders come quicker than production.
The harvest period runs until March and the fear is that there will be again no carry over stocks going into the off-season. This will only mean further supply issues and the possibility of higher prices. Get your orders in soon, as you may have a little wait!
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