Visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu 1— Spice Oil Facility
Visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu -- November 1995
Part 1: Spice Oil Facility
India is a unique country with a rich tradition in the appreciation of fragrance.
Since ancient times aromatic plants and products made from them have played a central role in the social, religious, economic and political lives of the people.
Fragrant plants have found their way into the foods, cosmetics, and perfumes of the people.
The culinary tradition of India is filled with the use of exotic spices such as pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cumin, and clove.
The traditional medicinal practices such as Ayurveda utilize aromatic plants extensively for treating a wide range of diseases.
Such lovely fragrances as champa, khus, keora, rose, jasmine, sandalwood, agarwood, and night queen all derived from plants grown in India since ancient times have been used in the manufacture of hair oils, skin products, incense and indigenous Indian perfumes called attars.
Many of these plants and their products formed a intregal part of international trade that stretches back for centuries.
Flowers and fragrance play a significant roll in the religious and spiritual lives of the people as they are seen as symbols of purity, sanctity, and devotion. Indeed, fragrance is woven into the very fabric of the lives of the Indian people....
I arrived in Cochin on Saturday, November 12th to begin the project.
The specific aim of this first trip was to gain a introductory understanding to the state of India's modern essential oil industry by visiting the spice division of Synthite where spice oils and oleoresins are produced and their fragrance division near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu where the concretes of mimosa, tuberose, and jasmine are being produced along with several other specialties.
Through their brochures I was aware that their facilities were modern and sophisticated but the actual visit to their spice division on Saturday afternoon was a truly amazing experience.
In the West we may have the impression that India is backward in respect to possessing state of the art distillation/extraction equipment and laboratory facilities to perform quality control analysis so critical for meeting international standards of purity but a visit to Synthites operation would totally dispel such thoughts. In every way this tour of the plant showed that India was swiftly emerging as a major contributor to the international fragrance and flavor industry.
The vigor, vitality, discipline, cleanliness, sophistication, and commitment of the company to modern industry standards was exemplary.
Huge storage areas contained tons of cinnamon, cassia, turmeric, black pepper, nutmeg, and chili peppers; chippers, shredders, and powdering equipment occupied their own areas where the raw spices were processed into the appropriate form for extraction or distillation; numerous immaculately kept stills were kept busy producing oleoresins and spice oils; tractors went about loading and unloading materials into and out of the stills.
Forklifts transported the raw materials from the storage areas to the processing machines. Workers spread chilies and red sandalwood on outdoor areas for thorough drying; others spread the waste material from distillation todry so it could be used as fuel for the burners or for use in some other products; all this being done in a quiet, efficient, and disciplined manner. It was an impressive sight....