Most common essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus, are distilled. Raw plant material, consisting of the flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, or peel, is put into an alembic (distillation apparatus) over water. As the water is heated the steam passes through the plant material, vaporizing the volatile compounds. The vapors flow through a coil where they condense back to liquid, which is then collected in the receiving vessel. Citrus peel oils are expressed mechanically, or cold-pressed. Due to the large quantities of oil in citrus peel and the relatively low cost to grow and harvest the raw materials, citrus-fruit oils are cheaper than most other essential oils. Lemon or sweet orange oils that are obtained as byproducts of the citrus industry are even cheaper.
In 2006 Indonesia exported essential oils with a quantity of 4.618 tons and total value of US$ 67.3 million, representing 3% of total world exports. Main essential oils that are continuously exported by Indonesia are five (5) kinds of product, namely: patchouli oil (HS 3301.29.400), nutmeg oil (HS 3301.29.210), vetiver oil (HS 3301.26.000), other essential oil (HS 3301.29.990), and other kinds of essential oil (HS 3301.90.900).
Essential oils or volatile oils are chiefly of vegetable origin, responsible for the scent of plants, used in pharmaceutical and perfumery industries. It is an oil present in and having
the characteristic odor of a plant etc., from which it can be obtained by distillation.
Indonesia is one of major essential oil producers and exporters in the world. There are 40 kinds of essential oils found in Indonesia out of 80 kinds traded in the world, and Indonesia has able to export 12 kinds of those products.
The production centers of Indonesian essential oils are found in almost every province. In the most northern province, Aceh, there are patchouli and nutmeg oils. Meanwhile, North Sumatra Province is a major production center for patchouli oil. Patchouli oils are also found in West Sumatra, Lampung, Bengkulu, West Java, Central Java, and Yogyakarta Provinces. Major production centers for nutmeg oil are Maluku, North Sulawesi, West Java, and West Sumatra Provinces, while
the production centers for vetiver oil are West and Central Java Provinces.
In 2006 Indonesia exported essential oils with a quantity of 4.618 tons and total value of US$ 67.3 million, representing 3% of total world exports. Its ranking was 9th after other exporting countries, e.g.: USA, France, India, Brazil, United Kingdom, Argentina, China, and Germany.
In the period of 2002-2006, exports of Indonesian essential oils had increased by an average of 10 percent annually, from US$ 51.4 million in 2002 to US$ 67.3 million in 2006. Major markets for Indonesian essential oils in 2006 were, among others, Singapore (US$ 20.7 million), USA (US$ 15.7 million), France (US$ 6.6 million), Netherlands (US$ 4.4 million), India (US$ 4.1 million), Switzerland (US$ 3.9 million), Spain (US$ 2.7 million), United Kingdom (US$ 2.3
million), Germany (US$ 2.1 million), China (US$ 1.1 million), United Arab Emirates (US$ 1.04 million), and Japan (US$ 930 thousand).
Main essential oils that are continuously exported by Indonesia are five (5) kinds of product, namely: patchouli oil (HS 3301.29.400), nutmeg oil (HS 3301.29.210), vetiver oil (HS 3301.26.000), other essential oil (HS 3301.29.990), and other kinds of essential oil (HS 3301.90.900). Total exports of those five main essential oils group continuously increased in the last five-year period. 2002 – 2006. Their exports in 2002 reached US$ 48.1 million of total exports in that year of US$ 51.4 million. In 2003, its exports declined to US$ 39.2 million, while total exports reached US$ 44.2 million. Its exports increased again in 2004 to reach US$45.2 million, while total exports valued at US$ 47.2 million. It continued to increase in 2005 to US$ 59.9 million, while total exports valued at US$ 64.6 million. In 2006, exports of those five products group reach US$ 66.1 million, while total essential exports in that year reached US$ 67.3 million. Other essential oils exported by Indonesia included: bergamot, lemon, lime, geranium, jasmine, lavender, peppermint, citronella, and sandalwood. Actually, Indonesia is the third largest producer of essential oils in the world after China and India. However, Indonesian essential oil industries are not yet well structured. It was seen from the fluctuation of the production. For example, the patchouli oil, which is a reliable material used by perfume and cosmetic industries, its production is fluctuated causing the price very high.
In International Federation for Essential Oil and Aroma Trade (IFEAT) Conference, held in September 2007 in Budapest, Hungary, the participants expected Indonesia could manage the fluctuation. Importers have stated they are ready to cooperate with Indonesia in this matter. To realize this cooperation, Indonesia will invite key players in flavor and fragrance houses to manufacture their products in Indonesia and to encourage the growth and development of local aroma and fragrance industries.