The nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans is indigenous to the Moluccas, Indonesia. The fruit contains a nut, which is covered by a hard shell. A red coloured webbing (known as mace) covers the shell. Once ripe the fruit will open revealing the mace and will fall to the ground to be collected or it can be picked just before falling. The mace will be carefully removed leaving the nutmeg (nut) available to be ground and processed.
The oil is extracted from the 'nut' by steam distillation after the grinding of the nutmeg.
The nutmeg is slightly sweeter than mace making the dry or ground spice a favourite in many culinary dishes. As an essential oil it is extensively used in perfumery and pharmaceuticals as well as a natural flavouring for baked goods, beverages, syrups and sweets.
Indonesia exports around 350-400MT of nutmeg oil each year which accounts for around 80% of the global production. Today the product is predominately plantation harvested.
Read more about the impact of recent plantations in our latest Elementary Report.
Read our latest report on Indonesia presented in October 2015 at the IFEAT conference in Sri Lanka, titled 'Indonesia - Current & Future Market Dynamics'
Indonesia stands as a major global producer of nutmeg, contributing to both local consumption and international trade. However, the nutmeg industry faces several challenges that impact production, yield, and quality.
The quality is unpredictable since raw material is getting mixed with Sulawesi. Production forecast this year is 30% lower. This is due to heavy rainfall last year, which resulted in mace either not bearing fruit or falling. Price is increasing daily.
The Ultra Group purchase team visited the sources of nutmeg production to gain deeper insights into the market situation of this product.
A summary of the key findings of their sourcing visit are as follows:
• Larger nutmegs are preferred for the spice industry. In the current situation the spice market is more lucrative than the oil market. Sulawesi is the largest producer of nutmeg in Indonesia, but it is mostly cultivated for the spice market.
• Smaller nutmeg fruits are used for essential oil extraction. In the current situation they have lower myristicin content as compared to the past.
• Nutmeg harvesting season varies between August and November, usually 9 months from blooming for the spice and 6 months for the oil.
• 2023’s forecast suggests reduced harvest due to adverse climatic conditions including excessive rain and extreme hot weather.
• Nutmeg production in Indonesia faces various challenges, including fungal infections and adverse environmental conditions which adversely affect production, yield, and quality.
• Currently, the spice market is more lucrative than the essential oil market for the farmers. Due to this many farmers are waiting to harvest the spice grade fruit. Fungal infections pose a significant challenge to nutmeg production leading to premature breaking and damage of nutmegs.
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