Natural licorice products are derived from the roots of the licorice or glycyrrhiza genus of plants. This plant is small shrub-like leguminous plant indigenous to the Middle East and Central Asia including the countries of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkey. The plant’s raw materials are harvested in the wild when the plant is approximately four years old. Raw materials are collected, cleaned, dried, processed and packaged by MAFCO’s suppliers across multiple regional sources and shipped to MAFCO’s worldwide factory locations by ocean vessel. Over its 150 year history, MAFCO has developed an extensive knowledge of licorice markets and collection networks in key licorice growing regions. MAFCO has also made significant financial investments in licorice raw materials collection operations in strategic areas of the world.
In order to maintain a continuous and sustainable supply of licorice raw materials, MAFCO maintains multiple sources of supply and relationships with many suppliers so that, if the licorice root from any one source becomes temporarily unavailable, MAFCO can replace that source with licorice raw materials from another area or supplier within the MAFCO supply network. MAFCO generally maintains a supply of licorice raw materials to meet multi-year demand.
MAFCO selects licorice raw materials from various sources to optimize the finished product performance characteristics required by customers. Processing licorice raw materials begins with shredding the raw materials to matchstick size. Licorice solids are then extracted from the shredded raw materials with hot water. After filtration and evaporation, the concentrated licorice extract is converted into a powder, semi fluid or block form, depending on the customer’s requirements, and then packaged and shipped to customers.
Licorice extracts are further purified through a series of extraction, purification and drying processes at MAFCO’s wholly-owned facilities in China to produce licorice derivatives. These licorice derivatives are based upon the unique ingredient in licorice root, glycyrrhizic acid. Glycyrrhizic acid when isolated, purified and neutralized has no characteristic licorice flavor at low dosages but possesses unique functional properties for eliminating undesirable flavors, intensifying and prolonging sweetness and enhancing other flavors.