When the mojito trend hit in 2006, the Cuban cocktail opened a new era in mint’s use in beverages. Traditionally, the cocktail combines fresh mint, sugar, lime juice and rum, but beverage companies launched a multitude of ready-to-drink options capitalizing on the popularity of the mint flavor. Mint has become a popular ingredient beyond the alcohol category, growing into coffee, tea, juice drinks and bottled waters.

Several companies took advantage of the refreshment qualities of mint, including San Francisco-based Soma Beverage Co.’s line of Metromint waters and Osmosis Mint water made by Sparke Technology, Seattle. In addition, R.W. Knudsen offers a mint variety of its Sparkling Essence effervescent spring water. The variety is infused with organic mint, and contains no calories, added sugar or artificial ingredients, the Chico, Calif.-based company says.

In addition to the refreshment properties of mint, A.M. Todd Ingredients & Flavors, Kalamazoo, Mich., finds mint provides a basis for many claims, says Raymond J. Hughes, the company’s president.

“Mint provides taste attributes such as cooling, sweetness, overall clean mouth and breath-freshening,” Hughes says. “Some beverages containing mint, along with other functional ingredients are suggesting benefits targeting digestion, weight control and immune system support, as well as beauty benefits, particularly from peppermint.”

To incorporate mint, many beverage companies opt to include mint oil as a basis for providing the refreshing flavor. A.M. Todd has been in the natural mint oil business for 140 years, Hughes explains. The company has full vertical integration from farm through the final distillation processing. Over the years, the company has found the best mint varieties and growing methods to guarantee total quality of the final mint oil, he says.

“Our technical development groups have decades of experience creating unique ‘brand-differentiating’ mint oil blends that are found in many of the successful products on the market,” Hughes says. “Furthermore, our Organic and Natural flavors group, based in Hamilton, Ohio, offers extracts and distillate ingredients, as well as innovative flavors. In cooperation with this team we have been able to create mint combination flavors that are used in ready-to-drink teas, juice drinks, waters, distilled alcohol beverages and other drink applications.”

A.M. Todd offers mint in a variety of forms, including pure mint oils, water soluble liquid, mint extract and encapsulated powder. The company also offers a range of mint oils from premium North American oils to global blends, such as those sourced from its India-based subsidiary. Its mint oils can be distilled, compounded and blended to meet a variety of beverage applications.

India also is the home of Earthoil’s mint production, which is a subsidiary of Treatt USA, Lakeland, Fla. The company’s Indian mint facility has received Fair for Life certification from the Institute for Marketecology based in Switzerland. The certification is awarded to companies for their social accountability and Fair Trade practices in agricultural, manufacturing and trading operations.

Since its foundation in 2003, Earthoil India has grown from 200 to 600 small-scale farmers in the community of Uttar Pradesh. With the growth, Earthoil has become a major supplier of organic and Fair Trade peppermint, cornmint (arvensis) and spearmint oils as well as menthol. The certified ingredients help manufacturers that are looking to declare their products organic and Fair Trade, the company says.

For some companies, the supply chain of mint has become a concern, said Catherine Hogan, International Flavors & Flavors Inc. (IFF) global category manager of sweet and dairy, in a statement.

“Mint prices are increasing significantly due to reduced acreage coupled with rising manufacturing costs,” Hogan said, in a statement. “…The challenge to our customers is to deliver high-quality mint profiles while keeping overall product costs in check.”

IFF, New York, created a variety of mint flavors to help companies incorporate the flavor without having to pay a premium.

The company created a new collection of mint flavors based on more than 325 different compounds identified during a test of domestic mint samples. The flavors can be used in new products and as cost-effective extenders, reducing raw material costs and providing insulation against the volatile mint market, the company says.

Wild Flavors, Erlanger, Ky., also has created a line of mint flavors and mint blends for beverage customers. In addition to traditional mint flavors, popular blends from Wild Flavors include vanilla mint lemonade, sweet mint tea, cherry mint, orange blossom mint and mojito, says Jessica Jones-Dille, senior manager, industry trends and market research.

Synthetic menthol flavors and the flavors of natural peppermint are a specialty of Takasago, Rockleigh, N.J. The company also offers menthol derivatives created by Takasago’s Asymmetric Synthesis Technology, which can provide the refreshing feeling of mint in a variety of applications, the company says. BI