The hurricane caused a huge spike in grapefruit prices, singlefold grapefruit oil that had retailed for around $10-$11 a kilo for the past five years, was suddenly worth $75-$80 a kilo.
"Lots of products use grapefruit and so it was important to provide an alternative," June Montanari, global marketing manager for beverage flavors told FoodNavigatorUSA.com.
She explained that it is virtually impossible to recreate the tonality of grapefruit without using grapefruit oil, but using citrus fractions that have been biosynthesised and proprietary ingredients, IFF has created two solutions.
Beverage and confectionary makers - the two areas which most frequently use grapefruit oil as an ingredient either on its own or as part of a citrus combination - can either use a flavor made with 50 percent grapefruit oil and 50 percent alternative, or an oil that resembles grapefruit, but contains no grapefruit ingredients.
The latter is even cheaper and not reliant in any way on grapefruit supplies and prices.
But in general, "in the current market we are a good 20-30 percent below the price of grapefruit oil," said Montanari.
She explained that from a physical solubility and a strength point of view, the replacement is exactly the same as pure grapefruit oil; it is the taste that is so difficult to reproduce accurately.
"We gave a beverage to a taste panel that was made using 50 percent reduced oil and they couldn't taste the difference between it and the real thing," said Montanari.
Most food manufacturers, though, are using the 100 percent replacement oil to create new products or in a citrus mix.
The problems faced when creating this flavor were not unique.
"We would have the same challenge if we were asked to produce a replacement orange oil," said Montanari.
IFF is far from being the sole producer of replacement grapefruit oil, but unlike some other manufacturers, its product can be marketed throughout the world as a natural ingredient.
They have created a full range of products that include pink and white grapefruit and alternatives for singlefold and fivefold oil.
And IFF is not worried about what will happen when grapefruit prices return to their normal levels, by which time a new challenge will have no doubt come along.
"We expect that the shortage will continue through 2006 because of the damage to the trees in Florida and therefore expect prices to stay high in 2006/7," concluded Montanari.