Mint in the Market

Mint is one of the most versatile ingredients used in cuisines throughout the world. Its properties are aromatic (mint symbolizes hospitality in many cultures); medicinal (having therapeutic benefits, from relieving stomach ailments to freshening breath); and, of course, culinary.

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF), a leader in the creation of flavors and fragrances, has a team of research scientists dedicated to identifying key ingredients necessary for quality mint flavors. IFF understands the consumer drivers of liking of mint, and this guides their flavor-development process. The company develops flavors that mimic leading piperita oils that are also cost-effective, providing flavor solutions to offset the volatile mint market.

Popular mint species include spearmint (Menthe spicata), which has a sweet, aromatic and herbaceous profile, and peppermint (menta + piperita), with its sweet, creamy and cooling qualities. Categories for mint usage include oral care, confectionery, beverage and culinary. Aside from the obvious oral care (the leading category using mint flavors), mint is also the leading single flavor of chewing gum. Chocolate and mint, as well as mint and fruit combinations, are becoming increasingly popular.

In the beverage category, applications run the gamut from peppermint herbal tea to traditional mint cocktails to mint-flavored water. Culinary uses abound. Adding mint to yogurt is a culinary tradition in Greek and Middle Eastern foods, for example. Mint-flavored sauces and dips are a great accompaniment to grilled and roasted meats, seafood and vegetables.

Market prices of mint oils have increased significantly during the past several years, according to IFF, due in part to low inventory, increasing manufacturing costs and loss of plantation acreage. Prices are forecasted to increase over the next couple of years, while supplies remain stagnant. To address this issue, IFF’s research scientists and flavorists, in alignment with their sensory and consumer insights team, developed a line of mint flavors to help customers keep supplies and prices steady.

Analyses of dozens of mint oils have resulted in the identification of unique ingredients valuable in the creation of mint flavors. IFF’s synthesis of components allows the company to develop superior mint flavors.

The company’s technical understanding and R&D capabilities are extensive. Its global reach allows IFF to efficiently source key ingredients, develop processes and create building blocks.  

As part of the flavor creation process, IFF’s Sensory and Consumer Insights Team conducted primary research in four phases. This included consumer understanding; sensory descriptive profiling of pure mint oils to understand key attributes; profiling representative samples of peppermint-flavored products; and final validation testing to confirm the mint flavors mimicked the key characteristics of the target oils. (See chart “Characterizing Attributes of Target Oils.”)
 -- Barbara T. Nessinger, Associate Editor

For more information:
International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. • New York
Tom DeBiase (technical) • 732-329-5502 •
Catherine Hogan (sales) • 732-274-6532 • pf