2023 July - From field to bottle: An interview ...

2023 July - From field to bottle: An interview with our supplier of Lavender Certified Organic Oil

Hello there, We get an exclusive interview our supplier of Lavender Certified Organic Oil in today’s newsletter. Take a peek inside.

From Field to Bottle: An Interview with our supplier of Lavender Certified Organic Oil

This is the season for harvesting Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) in Bulgaria. Our Product Development Manager interviewed our long-term supplier of Lavender certified organic oil. We have been working with him for more than 15 years.

Can you please introduce yourself? Tell us a about where you grew up, how you came to this industry and your industry experience.

I was born in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria and I still live here. My first real meeting with this beautiful industry was in 1997. My former boss and mentor showed me and taught me his business at an early stage. I joined him as a personal assistant. That time was the beginning of the free market economy in Bulgaria and the whole country was evolving quickly. I accomplished my first visits and audits to Lavender and Rose fields and distilleries under my mentor’s review. Step by step I spent some time training in different aspects of the job - administration, commercial, regulatory, production etc. My main focus and my main interest became the commercial side, where I was able to meet and work with fantastic producers and customers. So, now I am happy to have 25 + years of experience in this business, already managing my own company, inspired by few remarkable people.

Can you provide information about the history of your company and its commitment to producing high-quality organic lavender essential oil?

15 years ago, my company started trading essential oils and raw materials. In 2021 after meeting with few growers, my only focus was to position my company as a direct distributor from distilleries to buyers worldwide. During the years I met and established a friendship and good relations with few people who demonstrate their passion for growing Lavender and other Essential Oils crops. They are small or middle size farmers, with who we try to create a good working system to ensure a reliable and transparent service to our customers. After nearly 20 years of experience, these farmers and distillers are now well trained and knowledgeable. They fully understand the growing of natural products is not easy work, particularly growing as per the organic regulations and distilling Organic Lavender Essential oil. Lavender and Organic Lavender Oils are now my main focus for both my company and for my partners, farmers and distillers. Our producers do also grow a few other typical Bulgarian plants such as Rose.

What is the lifetime of lavender plants?

Lavander plants are very resistants and I have known some lavender fields to be 40 years old and still giving a crop! However, at that time the average lifetime for a crop was 15 years, give or take. Nowadays, with development and popularity of Lavender Oil, it is more common to see crop sustain a lifetime of 5- years. Farmers now need to refresh their crop to reach a more effective yield.

How long does it take for the plant to mature and obtain your first distillation?

The 2nd crop, 2 years from planting, can stand to provide commercial volume of raw material. The first harvest year after planting is just to refresh and stimulate the growing of the plant.

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How do the farmers you select source their lavender plants?

One of them is among the biggest producers of Lavender seedlings and they use only their seedlings. They have been in this industry for years and offer a good selection of starting material, to guarantee pure Lavandula Angustifolia varieties with a good balance between excellent quality and acceptable yields.

What is the process for growing and harvesting the lavender plants used to produce your oil organically?

Famers strictly follow the organic regulation and are audited and tested constantly by our certifier. Choosing organic for a grower is not an easy task as they face challenges such as lower yield and more expensive organic fertilisers. Last year, in 2022, they also had to face a general price increase in fuel, energies (mostly gas and electricity), transports etc. To compensate this price increase and to stay competitive many producers decided to not use any organic pesticides increasing the risk or losing part of their production. Luckily at the same time they increased the surface of lavender field and the final volume of oil was more or less sufficient.

What steps do all the selected farmers and your company take to minimise the environmental impact during the production and distribution of your Lavender Bulgarian Certified Organic Oil?

In general, growing and distilling lavender does not damage the environment. The agricultural activity especially growing in an organic way is even more environmentally friendly. Concerning the distillation – we try to utilise the lavender waste for compost. The use of natural gas instead of diesel is another step taken in one of the distilleries. The others still need some local infrastructure before implementing natural gas.

How is the oil extracted from the lavender plants, and what method is used? What is the approximate yield?

We use a steam distillation process to extract the oil. Freshly harvested lavender flowering tops are loaded in the distillation units and distilled using a steam. A good yield to obtain is 1KG Essential Oil from 60-70KG fresh lavender flowers. This does depend on many factors such as weather, state of the plants and distillery conditions. It can sometimes require more then 90-100KG of flowers to produce 1KG.

Harvesting Lavender Certified Organic Oil (OCLAVE)

What would be your advice to someone who would like to start their own production of Lavender Essential Oil?

Do it only if you have a passion for Essential Oils and not for a fast income – it is not always lucrative! Read and talk to people in the field with proven experience. Be patient!

What are the primary uses for your Lavender Bulgarian Certified Organic Essential Oil and how is it typically used?

Traditionally the main applications for Lavender Certified Organic Essential Oil are organic personal care products, aromatherapy and even pharmaceutical products.

What measures do you take to ensure the quality and purity of your Lavender Bulgarian oil and how do you test for contaminants or impurities?

The measures start from the selection of genuine seedlings, 100% from Lavandula Angustifolia. Then planting and harvesting only by reliable growers we audit frequently. We do not mix with other plants like Lavandin or other plants of other origins. The cleaning of fields before harvest prevents distilling foreign plants in the oil. The visual control during loading of the lavender flowers in distillation units also prevents contamination. The warehouse and packing operations are done in way to avoid pollution or mixing. Testing for pesticides of the Organic Lavender Essential Oil is also performed. Chiral testing for purity, completed by an external laboratory based in France, is done at random to reduce potential risks.

Are there any special precautions or considerations that users should keep in mind when using your Lavender Bulgarian oil, such as potential side effects?

As with all essential oils – the general measures include avoiding direct contact with ones eyes and mouth and always dilute essential oils using carrier oils. In event of contact, ensure you rinse with water and/or soap. In case of an allergy reaction or if in doubt always seek for medical advice. [New Directions Australia Safety Data Sheet is available upon request – please contact customer service]

More Info On Lavender Certified Organic Oil
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