1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 Average US$8.29

FIGURE 20.9 Price graph of peppermint oil (arvensis).

In the 1970s, there was considerable fraud of millions of dollars, caused by the shipment of essential oils from Indonesia to the major buyers. The oils were in fact water, despite analysis certificates from Indonesian Government laboratories showing them to be the named essential oil. Payment had been made by letters of credit and this fraudulent practice has discouraged buyers from opening letters of credit to suppliers today. Terms of trade should normally be cash against shipping documents or payment after receipt and quality control of goods.

The United States produces import statistics for essential oils and these can often be useful sources of information, and the European Union (EU) also has such statistics. The EU statistics cover a wide range of essential oils in each tariff; therefore the information is very vague and should not be used to make decisions. These statistics give no clues as to the quality of the product and it is that which can determine the price. The production of essential oils, as can be seen in the quotation by V.A. Beckley OBE, MC, Senior Agricultural Chemist, Kenya, who said during a meeting in 1931 in Nairobi, is perhaps more chancy than most farming propositions; it most certainly requires more attention and supervision than most, and, with certain rare exceptions, does not pay much more highly is still valid to this day, despite this being said in 1935.

The essential oil industry is a very small, tightly knit circle of traders, dealers, producers and consumers, and apart from some notable exceptions there is a very strong trade ethos. As it is a relatively small industry in terms of global commodities, statistics are not produced and it is by relationships with customers that information becomes available. Much that is on the Internet is misleading as it is for small quantities or is often written by consultants, and this information can be rapidly out-of-date as prices can move extremely quickly in either direction.

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