Natural Products and Their Sources

Our subject is the future supplies of natural raw materials for the essential oil industry. We might divide these raw materials roughly into three groups: 1) those that serve as raw materials in the production of isolates, competing head-on with synthetics and including citronella, lemongrass, menthol, and clove leaf; 2) those that can be replaced by synthetic oils, such as anis, rose, fir needle, geranium, citrus oils, sandalwood mint oils, and floral extractives; 3) those that are not threatened by replacements–at least for the present– including cedarwood, eucalyptus, guaiaewood, lavandin, ocotea, petitgrain, patchouli, vetivert, and ylang.

The common enemy of these naturals of all three categories is production cost. Any persistent upward trend beyond normal inflationary forces could cause the demise of a natural raw material.

As to the first group of naturals, in talking to growers in Guatemala, Java, and China, I found they fully expect to be able to compete with synthetic isolates. These people expect to hold but a small portion of the isolates market, about 25 percent, but they do expect to hold this fraction. These naturals can be grown abundantly like any other agricutural product, and there should be no shortage of essential oils to make isolates. But manufacturers in the United States and Europe may not have naturals for processing if the oil producing countries fractionate or synthesize the oils themselves rather than exporting.

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