Monthly Archives: November 2015

Essential Oils and Mother Nature

drought sunMy essential oil producer and I were discussing the climate and how it affects the production of essential oils and pricing. The climate controls our supply of food, medicinal plants, and essential oils. This year helichrysum oil became victim to the drought in Corsica.  Two years ago lemons decimated by a freeze in Argentina reduced the supply of lemon oil drastically.

Below is a brief summary of our conversation.frozen lemons

Conversation:

I always discuss with my students or clients that the world of essential oils supply is directed by the climate (i.e. drought, floods, perfect weather and other mitigating factors…). Do you agree with this statement, explain?

I agree completely with your statement. 

We always tell our clients and customers that Mother Nature is in charge.  There is no larger factor in the production of essential oils than the weather.

In southern Europe this year (and last year), there has been a lack of rain.  Farmers and co-ops have had to purchase water (which is incredibly expensive) to water their crops.  They water just before harvest in the hopes of the plant will increase production.

An example of essential oil availability and price increase happened this year with Helichrysum. Can you describe what happened? 

helichrysum-italicma

Helichrysum italicum: effective wound healer, anti-aging agent, helps with aches and pains and neuralgia

Corsica is a growing region for some of the world’s most beautiful helichrysum oil – both organic and conventional.  The serious lack of rain in the region coupled with the increase in demand drove the price to a record high.  Because of the lack of rain, production was down 50% from the past year – this alone drives the price up.  Farmers must be able to cover their costs regardless of the production.  For example, let’s say they farm 5 acres – whether the plant matter produces a high yield of oil with minimal input costs (water, etc.) or the plant matter experiences a difficult year, they have losses at both harvest and production – the farmer still has to make enough money to cover their costs and plant the following year. 

It seems every year some essential oil supplies are controlled by weather conditions. Do you agree with this statement? Can you explain to us why?

Two and a half years ago, we experienced a spike in lemon oil prices that pushed prices to historical highs.  There was a freeze in Argentina (the world’s number one lemon producer) that wiped out nearly half the fruit being produced.  Food and beverage companies were in a panic – many of the flavors produced depend highly upon the stable supply of such products.  The panic for them was so serious, they went out to farmers and purchased future crops. Again, this brings us back to Mother Nature – there is no way to get around the fact that weather is the controlling factor in the production of essential oils.

 Is there any other information you feel would be important to educate me, my students, and clients on essential oils etc?

Being an educated consumer is the best thing you can do for yourself and your products.  There are many companies out there that are “less than honest” about their oils. They make claims of pure and natural, but their product is anything but. You need to remember that the aroma of the essential oil is only one part of the identity of the oil – knowing the constituents of the oil and working with a company you trust is crucial.  Also, if a product seems very inexpensive – there is generally a very good reason.  It is more than likely you are not paying for what you think you are getting.  As an example, if you have an offer for $40 per kilogram of lavender oil Mailette, you can pretty much guarantee it is not anything close to lavender oil Mailette.  It is more than likely a blend of lavandins with synthetic ingredients.  Adulteration for economic gain is one of the biggest problems in the essential oil marketplace today.

PathCOmfortGroup copy 2

FrogWorks’ Path To Comfort contains helichrysum essential oil

Essential Oil Producer vs Supplier

The difference between an essential oil producer and supplier: A Producer is involved in the growth, harvest, production and quality control of the essential oils they sell.  Suppliers are in fact, just that – Suppliers.  They purchase from other traders and producers, such as the 4th generation of the family producers that I do business with.