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Technosol to further captivate essential oil market

Published:Thursday | June 9, 2016 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams
From left: Dr Lyndon Johnson, and his staff, Cutilyn Hastings-Arnold Nathalia Johnson and Paulette Johnson, displaying some of the essential oils and value-added products made by Technosol Limited.
Some of the pieces of equipment that are used to extract essential oils at Technosol Ltd in Hodges, St Elizabeth.

In a process called steam distillation, Dr Lyndon Johnson of Technosol Limited has been extracting essential oils from plant matters since 1993. The oils he sells as ingredients for culinary and therapeutic products.

At this time, Technosol's main products are pimento leaf, pimento berry, lemon grass and sour orange oils, plus lemon grass hydrosol, which is a flavoured water that can be used to deodorise kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces, etc.

These essential oils are mainly used as flavours and fragrances, but local spas also purchase them for massage and aromatherapy. Technosol's main market is overseas. "Jamaica has a tremendous opportunity on the world market," Dr Johnson recently told The Gleaner.

He gets his raw materials from small farmers and arbitrary suppliers, and though pimento leaves are his main sources, he said pimento is only one of over 40 essential oils the country could be producing, especially with the availability of so much idle land.

Peppermint, lavender and rosemary are only a few of the other plants whose essence and essential oils we could be extracting as a commercial activity. Given the right conditions, Dr Johnson said, they can be converted to value-added products. Once the material has a flavour or fragrance property, an essence, it has commercial potential, but production depends on volume and available technology.

We are only "scratching the surface with pimento", he told The Gleaner. "Jamaica could be doing far more economically if we were focusing on a wider range of value-added products," said the man who is arguably one of the leading producers of essential oils in the country.

But the University of the West Indies-trained chemist and businessman whose operations are in Hodges, near Black River, St Elizabeth, is not sitting on his laurels. He wants to further captivate the essential-oil market.

Thus, he is capitalising on the demand for products consisting of essential oils. He is set on integrating his business, from producing only ingredients to marketing his own retail products.

They include rubbing alcohol with pimento oil for body aches and pain, a sinus-friendly air freshener blend, and a hair tonic consisting of castor oil, olive oil and essential oils.