The subject of menthol and cornmint oil from China and speculation about China's long-term plans to continue to supply these materials has gained some prominence in recent times because of the high prices prevailing in the market. This article looks at the current supply situation and draws some conclusions about the future availability of these products from China.
The cultivation of Mentha arvensis in China has a long history going back to the early 1800s. The cultivation area was small and occurred in Jiangsu province, where it was a secondary crop for the farmers who collected the leaves and made them into a non-prescription medicine.
The first large-scale commercial production of menthol/cornmint began in Shanghai in 1923. By the early 1980s, China was a significant exporter of these products. Today, mint cultivation is totally free from central control; farmers decide how much mint to plant. Buying mint from China on a forward basis is now difficult, if not impossible.