Cornelius Essential Oils: A Market Overview

The essential oils market has attracted a great deal of attention over the past several years...

By John Brebner, Business Development Manager (Essential Oils), Cornelius Group Plc

The essential oils market has attracted a great deal of attention over the past several years. Demand for ever more natural ingredients in food products, cosmetics products, household products and even industrial cleaning products, has put pressure on a limited supply of essential oils from around the world.

Many of the major essential oils are almost a by-product from the manufacture of other products, fruit juices being a prime example.

In addition to the well-known essential oils, the manufacturer is always seeking new and ‘exotic’ oils for use in marketing their new and latest product.

Lavender has always been by far the most popular oil, traditionally coming from France, but France has never had sufficient capacity to meet the increasing demand. Thus Lavender is now sourced from Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Australia, England, the USA and a few other regions. Like wine, each region has has a unique fragrance associated with it. English Lavender has a softer, more floral to herbaceous note than, say French, which has a sweeter, purer, more floral aroma.

The same is true of, for example, thyme oil. There are many variations: thyme ‘thymol’, thyme ‘carvacrol’, thyme ‘thuyanol’, thyme ‘linalol’, thyme ‘citral’ each with a different chemical analysis, and thus very different in aroma. There are well over 300 varieties of thyme, many with the same botanical name!

When a major Fragrance House creates a new perfume, a team of expert ‘noses’ (perfumers) spend months experimenting with different essential oils to make a final fragrance. In the case of fine fragrance, a bottle of your favourite scent could well contain in excess of 400 different ingredients. This makes a perfume highly complex, and different to others on the market.

The increasing number of perfumes launched each year also demands more and more essential oils. The same is true of the many cosmetic and personal care products, each one seeking a difference from their competitor.

At Cornelius, as we mainly source from the producers in countries around the world, we have a number of ‘different’ Essential Oils, for example Sughanda Kokila oil, Blue Tansy oil, Boronia oil, Pangar oil etc. These and others are more in demand as the call for ‘exotic’ increases.

A challenge which affects essential oils is that, being natural products, they are susceptible to weather variations. This can cause extreme shortages of a particular oil, or, conversely, if the weather conditions are ideal (on those rare occasions!), there can be almost a glut of a particular oil. Again, I essential oils are similar to wine, where it is possible to have a poor year, an average year, or an exceptional year from a given region. A shortage in one place puts a strain on demand from another.

If you should have a requirement or interest in either traditional or exotic oils, please contact Cornelius at or 01279 714 300.