Brief History of the Mint Industry in the United States

Peppermint was introduced to the U.S. by English settlers, with cultivation beginning in Massachusetts in the early 1800s, before larger scale production commenced in New York State (1830s) and then the Midwestern states (mid 1800s) (1).  Because of favorable growing conditions and the effects of Verticillium wilt, a fungal disease, the early 1900s saw a migration of peppermint cultivation to the Northwestern states (Oregon, Washington, and later Idaho).  As of 2014, the Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington) accounts for 84 % of the U.S. peppermint production and 79 % of the U.S. total production area of peppermint.  Other significant peppermint producers are the Midwest states (Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin), albeit at a smaller scale than the Pacific Northwest.  The mint industry emerged as a genuine American heritage over one hundred years ago, and consists of growers, oil dealers, large consumer goods companies (e.g., Wrigley, Mars, and Colgate), and international flavor houses (e.g., Firmenich and Takasago).  The total value of U.S. mint production is about $186 million as of 2014, of which 70% is contributed by peppermint production (USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service;  A recent study in Washington estimated an output multiplier of 2.17 for the mint production sector of the economy.  If this multiplier is applied to the value of U.S. peppermint production, this sector generates a total economic contribution of approximately $283.6 million in terms of output or revenue.  Peppermint sales contribute approximately $100 million to the export trade of the U.S., while imports of lower valued oil average approximately $14 million (USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service;  The peppermint supply chain consists of three major transaction points: 1) mint grower to dealer/broker; 2) mint dealer/broker to manufacturer or processor; and 3) manufacturer to consumer (2).  At each point in the supply chain value is added by either a change in form or product.  Mint dealers refine the crude oil extracts supplied by growers; at this point the quality of the oil is also evaluated.  Brokers can then store or sell the refined and tested oil, or they formulate oils from various sources and sell the blend to food or other product manufacturers, such as the dentifrice (mouthwash, toothpaste) industry.  The market price for oil is negotiated between the end user and a dealer/broker based on oil quality and end use product specifications

(1) Landing JE (1969) American essence : a history of the peppermint and spearmint industry in the United States. Kalamazoo Public Museum:244 pp.
(2) Toro-Gonzalez DG, R.K.; Yan, J; McCluskey, J.J. (2013) Quality differentiation with flavors: Demand extimation of unobserved attributes. J. Agric. Food Ind. Org. 11:1-11.