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February 23, 2008

Givaudan & Those Natural Product Sourcing Media Write-ups

Cropwatch tries hard to cut through the aromatic marketing hype presented by parts of the aroma trade, and to maintain an independent position, on the basis that somebody has to. For example the megacorp Givaudan, which you will remember recently acquired the aroma giant Quest (hence the floods of Quest employees who have been looking for jobs of late), disclosed a bolstered global turnover of € 888 million for 2007. Shortly before we learned of this figure, we also read about a partnership, (dressed up as it was in sustainable & natural product media hype terms, between Givaudan & Mount Romance in Australia, for Australian sandalwood oil supply futures (in spite of the high carbon footprint associated with sandalwood oil production). The negative effects of  sandalwood plantations on the Australian environment have been previously discussed by Cropwatch at http://www.cropwatch.org/cropwatch2.htm which drew for information, amongst other sources, on the fairly forthright & critical report on the W. Australian sandalwood industry by Tonts & Selwood (2002). Considering that land clearance for sheep & wheat farming devastated existing natural Australian sandalwood tree numbers, and caused huge salinity problems for the water table, it makes the trade rag reporting of 'sustainable production' even more laughable. Further, you may recall that Bleimann (2007) spoke for many of us in the aroma trade, when he commented that Sandalwood oil Australian is not a practical replacement for Sandalwood oil EI in perfumery formulae. Mount Romance  are still emphasising the use of aboriginal labour, this time publicising aboriginal sandalwood sourcing. As we mention in the v 1.04 update mentioned above, the MD of Mount Romance was previously associated with crocodile & turtle farming, and even now Mount Romance has a strong connection with emu oil promotion (previously, in 1981, Birkbeck reportedly took charge of a "forgotten peoples" emu company in Wiluna, W. Australia). Opposition to emu farming in Australia by the Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, can be viewed at http://www.rspca.org.au/pdf/B_policystatements.pdf

So, at a time when the cosmetics industry is getting out of animal products (for example, see the shark liver oil saga in v 1.04), just what do the decision-makers at Givaudan think they will achieve with this controversial buying arrangement? Cropwatch predicts (in our humble opinion of course) that the agreement is not exactly going to be ecstatically received by animal lovers, vegetarians, vegans, eco-supporters and perhaps not even by the green movement in general. Unfortunately, Givaudan are not the first to want to get into bed with Mount Romance over Australian sandalwood oil - Aveda have reportedly entered a similar arrangement (see v 1.04 update).  But now we also learn that Lush are reportedly joining the goldrush too, by signing up with the Australian sandalwood producer TFS Corporation, in anticipation of their commercial sandalwood oil production starting in 2011. All this activity is pretty strange, because up to now, the major market for Australian sandalwood oil has been, err, Australia! Further, direct buying by end-users from the producers may well cut out the middle man, but it further reduces the already fragile position of essential oil traders, who serve to buffer the market in times of shortage, provide forward cost-stability under contract, and provide superior ingredient location services to many buyers. It is another sign that the fragrance industry used to be more a professionally run, mutually co-operative endeavour, but now some puffed-up corporate big-shots are pursuing their own individual company agendas to the detriment of all others, which can only fragment & weaken the industry overall. 

Givaudan do seem to have entered a vote of confidence in coumarin's future, however, with the recent announcement of a 3-cornered arrangement for the 'sustainable' sourcing of tonka beans (for the production of tonka bean absolute, a rich source of natural coumarin) between the Criollo people of the Caura basin in Venezuela, the charity Conservation International & Givaudan themselves.

Meanwhile the debate about coumarin toxicity continues, Oko-test (the German consumer organisation's organ) has also run the story on the BfR opinion. We understand (if we have translated correctly) that in another section of the current magazine there is news that highest coumarin content found in a retailed cosmetic products by Oko-test was in a self-tanning lotions (37mg coumarin/Kg) which approximated to a 0.18 mg application of coumarin from one single eight gram application of tanning lotion for the body (per day). This is so far under the TDI that Oko-test recommend the BfR drop the regulation of coumarin in cosmetics altogether (thanks to Kendra for the translation).
Tony Burfield.


Bleimann K .(2007) - see http://www.cropwatch.org/Kim Bleimann's lecture.pdf

Tonts M & Selwood J (2002) “Niche Markets, Regional Diversification and the Reinvention of Western Australia’s Sandalwood Industry” Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 94(5), 564-575.

Posted by Tony Burfield on February 23, 2008 in Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Oil Crops, Safety/Toxicity | Permalink


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