AM Todd's lemon oil extenders are all natural, citrus-based systems that the company claims have the ability to extend the flavor character of lemon oil up to 50 percent and, in certain applications, could be a total replacement. It says that with the extenders, food manufacturers will be able to use less lemon oil in products while maintaining a typical lemon oil flavor profile, with potential savings of between 20 and 40 percent. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, the average August-to-April price for lemons in 2003/2004 was $12.20 per 76-lb box. This compares to $45.55 for 2007/2008. The company said that lemon prices have been escalating steadily over the last few years. However, this year's jump is in large part due to poor weather conditions in some major growing regions, including California, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Argentina. In many cases yields were significantly reduced. Henry W Todd, AM Todd Group chairman and CEO, said: "With many experts in lemon oil predicting shortages until next fall, we are in a good position to help companies deal with escalating prices of lemon oil by incorporating lemon oil extenders into their formula." The extenders are to help address shortages experienced by both consumer packaged goods' manufacturers and flavor or fragrance companies. Dr Ross Sheldon, AD Todd vice president of research and development, said that the major use of lemon and a lot of citrus oils, is in the beverage industry. He added: "We have customers who are saying they can't get all that they need. "These formulations are compatible with existing natural oils so they could be blended together. "The physical characteristic and the way the products can be used and handled is exactly the same as the lemon oil they are intended to replace" Lemon forecast The USDA said in its Fruit and Tree Nuts outlook published in May this year, that the 2007/08 lemon crop, forecast at 703,000 tons, is expected to be 12 percent smaller than last season's revised crop size of 798,000 tons, which was damaged by freeze. It said: "While last season's smaller crop brought higher grower prices, the continued pressure on the industry to provide ample lemon supplies has further pressured prices higher. The report added that prices are "likely to increase in the coming months as the demand for lemons grows with the onset of warmer weather which generally increases lemon demand". Market alternatives The high cost of citrus, mainly as a result of poor weather in prime growing regions, has also led Givaudan to develop a new range of lemon oil replacers, which it claims are a precise match for the flavor profile and functionality. Another factor is the increased consumption of fresh lemons in developing markets where consumers now have more disposable income. This means that less lemons are available for processing - and, as lemon oil is a by-product of processing, less lemon oil too. AM Todd is a global company and a natural resource for flavors used in the confections, gum and oral care industries. Its botanically-based products provide value-added ingredients for the diet supplement and functional food industries, along with health and wellness products. The citrus-based extenders are called Natural Lemon WONF Item No. 7001249 and Natural Flavor, Lemon Type Item No. 6001773 and are already available.