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Description | Overview | History | Cultivation pattern | Mentha oil producing countries | Indian mentha oil market | Major trading centers | Contract specifications

Mentha oil is derived from a plant named Mentha arvensis or common mint. Mentha arvensis is a European mint herb that is adopted by the United States. It is a long lasting, quick growing, hairy leaved herb that can even attain a height of 1.5 meters if favorable conditions are provided. ‘Mentha’, actually, is a Latin name for ‘mint’. With the help of steam distillation process, mentha oil is obtained from the fresh leaves of that plant followed by the separation of menthol from it. 


Mentha oil is extremely useful in a wide variety of industries namely food industry, pharmaceutical industry and also in perfumery and flavoring industries. Also, the constituents and derivatives of mentha oil like mint and menthol are used widely.


Menthol is the major derivative product of mentha oil. Majority of the oil is converted into menthol, which is so important that it is even considered as one the basic uses of mint oil. It is extracted through a complex process that involves cooling of the oil slowly, which turns the oil into crystal form and then it is centrifuged and dried to attain a yellow colored substance called menthol. This oil like substance is often required by the medicine industry and it is used in balms, cough drops, inhalers, toothpastes, mouthwashes etc. Around 40% to 50% menthol and around 50% to 60% dementholized oil is obtained from mentha oil in the production process of menthol. Dementholized oil is used in confectioneries and peppermint oil.


India is the leading producer of mentha oil in the world with around 14000 metric tons production in 2003. China and Brazil follow India in the list of major producers on 2nd and 3rd place. Also, India leads the mentha oil exporting countries with around 3000 tons exports annually. Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, UK, USA are some of the importing countries of mentha oil. The consumption figures of menthol show that annual world consumption of menthol is 9600 metric tons. India is the largest consumer of menthol with a figure of about 3100 metric tons in 2003. The important menthol consuming countries are: -

  • India (3100 metric tons)

  • China (2000 metric tons)

  • European Union (1900 metric tons)

  • USA with (1800 metric tons)


The origination of mint is not known to the people now, but it is said that it was cultivated in Europe in the ancient times.

Commercially, Japan started producing mint around 1870. During that time, it was called Japanese mint and Japan was the leading country in this field. After the 2nd world war was over, Brazil was looked upon by some Japanese producers as mint was found in the Brazilian forests and they started producing mint in Brazil also. Likewise, the production of mint spread over other South American countries too. The production of mint was also taken over other countries of the world like China and India around 1960. In fact, initially India was an importer of menthol but after the green revolution in 1986, mint took off as an agricultural commodity.

Cultivation pattern

Mentha was introduced as a rabi crop i.e. it was sown in the winter season. It continues to be the scenario currently. This crop prospers on sandy soil that is having high water content. Water logging and low rainfall provide hindrance in proper growth of the crop.

Once the crop reaches the flowering stage, it is harvested as it is during this period when the oil content in plant is at its highest. The harvested crop is then dried in sun, 2-4 hours a day, till it get reduced to one-third of its weight, and then it is sent for distillation. It is dried as the distillation of dried leaves is much more cheaper than non-dried leaves. Over drying the crop may result in soaked up oil content.

Mentha can be combined with potato and maize to get a higher return and increased profitability. Harvesting is done at least twice a season.

Mentha oil producing countries


The following are the major mint oil producing countries

  • India

  • China

  • Brazil

  • United States

  • Japan

As mentioned earlier, India became the world’s leading producer after green revolution was started in India. Rampur in India became the 1st place in India where mentha production was introduced. In India, the major producing areas of mint are: -

  • Punjab

  • Haryana

  • Himachal Pradesh

  • Uttar Pradesh

  • Bihar

The foothills of the Himalayas in India have a semi-temperate climate that supports mentha production. Major share of mentha is cultivated in these areas only. The land under cultivation of mint in India has increased constantly is currently around 70000 hectares. As compared to other kinds of mint crop oils in India like mentha peperata oil, mentha sparmint oil and mentha citrata oil, mentha arvensis oil has got a major share in production.

Indian mentha oil market

The consumption pattern of mentha in India has made it an important crop. Mentha in India has reached out to all most all the households and has made a major impact because of the qualities present in it. In fact, India is the leading consumer of mentha and mentha oil. Sauces are made from mentha leaves. Increasing rate of production of mentha oil has made India the largest producer and exporter in the world. The mint oil production in India hovers around 15000 tons and exports around 3000 tons annually. India exports mentha oil and its derivatives to countries including
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • European Union
  • Japan
  • US

  These exports have a worth of around 100 crores and earns a good amount foreign exchange to India.

Menthol production is also done on a commercial scale. The menthol producing areas in India are Bombay, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh

Major trading centers of mentha oil


The major trading centers in India are: -

  • Sambhal

  • Barabanki

  • Rampur

  • Chandausi

  • Badaun

  • Bareilly

  • Mumbai

  It is also traded at the Indian commodity exchanges like National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange ltd and Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd.

Future contract specifications of mentha oil in various commodity exchanges
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