IFF releases mint flavor range to beat soaring mint oil costs

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) has released a new range of mint flavors for confectionery, chewing gum and oral hygiene products to provide “insulation against the volatile mint market.”

Natural mint oils have become more expensive over the past year, and supply is down as growers have been offered better prices for other crops. The mint price is expected to remain high throughout 2009 because this year’s crop has already been harvested, and farmers are not expected to increase acreage in the near future, since they are still getting good prices for corn-based ethanol.

Therefore, alternative mint flavors have become increasingly attractive to manufacturers as they look for ways to cut costs. IFF’s new mint flavors are based on extensive research into the chemical makeup of popular peppermint oil varieties such as Far West, Willamette, Yakima and Madras, and the new range includes both the essential natural components of these, and synthetic versions.

Director of global technical business development Tom DeBiase told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “Historically there was pretty free use of peppermint oil to get that nice minty taste, but with the cost soaring it doesn’t allow us to use it as we like.”

Analysis

In order to develop the flavors, IFF sent its researchers to American mint-growing regions where they collected samples to analyze back in the laboratory. On the basis of this analysis, the company said it isolated 325 different compounds in the mint oils and fractions, and its latest flavor line is centered on the development of these elements. Each one was analyzed both by computers in the lab, and by trained sensory panels who smelt each compound to ascertain its individual role in overall flavor.

DeBiase said: “Our program has been going on for close to two years and we wanted to have a complete thorough understanding. We have made a couple of new discoveries in that time.”

IFF said that its range of mint flavors is available globally, either for use in new products, or as cost-effective flavor extenders for those flavors that manufacturers are already using.

DeBiase said that while alternative crops have reduced the acreage given over to mint, the flavor has become increasingly popular.

“There are just more and more offerings now,”​ he said.

The company works directly with manufacturers to customize its range, allowing it to create signature flavors and meet local consumer tastes.

Symrise released a range of synthetic mint flavors last month, also in response to rising natural mint costs.

Related topics: Suppliers, Flavors and colors

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