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Melted Menthol Flakes - Commodities Info

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General Characterstics

  • Menthol flake is a transparent, white liquid with strong minty herbal odour derived from Mentha oil, which is obtained from a perennial herb called Mint (Mentha arvensis) belonging to the Labiatae family. This family is well known for aromatic plants, which yield volatile oils from the foliage.
  • Mentha oil derived by steam distillation of mint (pudina) leaves is frozen to (-) 60o Celsius in an aluminum vessel for about a week. The liquid is then centrifuged to obtain De-Mentholised Oil (DMO) and Menthol flakes to the extent of 30% and 70% respectively. Menthol flakes are melted and packed in 180 kg galvanized iron barrel and Menthol flakes are further processed to obtain Menthol crystals.
  • Menthol flakes and its constituents and derivatives are used in food, pharmaceutical, perfumery and flavoring industry. Its main constituent, menthol, is used in the manufacture of lozenges, toothpastes, pain balms, cold balms, Dabur Pudin Hara, etc.
  • It is estimated that tobacco industry accounts for about 40% of the total Mentha oil consumption followed by pharmacy and confectionary industry.

Global Scenario

  • Globally, India is the largest producer and exporter of Menthol Flakes. The other major producers in the world are China, Brazil, US and Japan. Out of total global production of Menthol flakes India contributes around 73%, China 18% and others 9%.
  • India meets the global demand by exporting nearly 10000 to 12000 tonnes per annum valued at more than Rs. 1000 crores. The major exports are directed to countries like China, France, Germany, Japan etc. About 50% of total Menthol flakes production is exported to China, whereas menthol crystals are exported to US and European countries.

Monthly Price Volatility

  • India's annual production of Menthol flakes has been rising in the recent years to meet the rising demand, with 2007 and 2008 production estimated to be around 22,000 tonnes. However, production in 2009 is reported to have fallen to around 18,000 - 20,000 tonnes.
  • Uttar Pradesh is India's largest producing state, contributing almost 80-90%, to the country's total production, followed by Bihar, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Cultivation of mint in India starts from February - March every year and the crop takes around 90 days to mature and produces first flowers, which is the best stage to harvest. First harvesting is done during May - June. Farmers undertake atleast two harvestings from the crop. Menthol flakes production in India begins from mid-June and steady arrivals are seen till November.
  • The major production/trading centers of Menthol flakes cover the districts of Moradabad, Rampur, Barabanki, Sitapur and Lucknow in the Central Uttar Pradesh; Chandigarh & Jalandhar in Punjab.

Market Influencing Factors

  • The acreage under the crop, weather conditions during cultivation and India's output are very important factors influencing supply and prices as major share of global production and exports emanate from India.
  • As India exports a significant portion of its annual production, any factor which affects global demand including macro-economic factors like economic scenario, currency fluctuations have a profound influence on domestic prices.
  • The stock present with traders and the cost at which it has been acquired is a major price influencing factor.
  • Domestic demand usually peaks during the winter season. Despite, supply not being a constraint in recent years due to successive bumper outputs, prices do display a tendency to firm during the winter months.
  • The physical market of this commodity is very fragmented, does not have a regulatory body and is large consisting of around 500 participants including small processors, traders exporters and industrial users. The information flow is not uniform and accurate between different participants in many cases, which too is a factor to be kept considered, while pricing this commodity.
  • Meanwhile, as Menthol flakes is not considered an essential commodity Government intervention in this commodity is very minimal.

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