The Wisconsin Mint Industry
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Mint is a unique agricultural crop. Although small when compared with other agricultural commodities in terms of acreage and number of farmers, mint is extremely important to the consumer who uses the products in which mint plays a major role.
Grown for Flavoring
Commercial mint is cultivated for the flavorful oils produced in glands on
the underside of the plantís leaves. The
bulk - about 90% - of commercially grown mint is used for flavoring two
categories of consumer products, chewing gum and toothpaste.
The remainder of these oils are used as flavoring agents in a variety of
confectionery, pharmaceutical, and liqueur flavoring trades.
U.S. commercial mint used for flavoring is actually two different crops consisting of three varieties: Mentha piperita (peppermint), Mentha cardiaca (Scotch spearmint) and Mentha spicata (Native spearmint.) A fourth variety, Mentha arvensis or cornmint, is sometimes referred to as a type of peppermint, but does not meet the U.S. governmentís regulatory definition for true peppermint. In the U.S., cornmint is used primarily as a source of menthol.