The Mint plant is primarily grown for the oil produced in its leaves. There are 2 types of Mint – mentha piperita (peppermint) & mentha spicata (spearmint), of which peppermint is grown more widely in the United States. The U.S.A. is the largest producer of both Spearmint and Peppermint in the world with 2014-projected production of peppermint at 5 million pounds and spearmint at 2.6 million pounds.
Mint oil is used as flavoring ingredients in dentifrice, chewing gum, and confectionery, homeopathic, medicinal, and industrial products. It must maintain the same consistency, taste, and essence to meet the standards set by the U.S. mint industry as well as any standards set by the individual companies using the oil.
U.S. companies like William Wrigley Jr., Warner-Lambert, Lifesavers, Proctor and Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive purchase large quantities of oil for mint flavored products.
In a given year, about 50% of the U.S. mint oil is exported to countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Mexico and various European countries.
Mint is one of the most difficult plants to grow because of its extreme susceptible to disease, insects and weeds, all of which alter the oil quality and/or reduce the yield.