engage your senses

France: a two-fold approach helps secure healthy and vibrant lavender

The scent of lavender conveys so much of what our customers like to say about their products: clean and fresh, with a subtle herbal note, it evokes the countryside and feelings of nature. But the traditional source of French lavender in Provence has suffered in recent years. Farmers have had to adapt to new conditions as disease has weakened the crop and threatened the stability of the supply. 

Lavender field

Maxence, Givaudan’s category manager, explains how the Company saw the need for action to ensure that this key natural ingredient would continue to enrich the palette of our perfumers for years to come. The answer is to source for shared value ‒ to breathe new life into the industry in a way that benefits the producers and our customers.

“A two-fold approach was necessary: first it was important to engage directly with the lavender producers to secure a stable and long-term supply; second to work together, with the help of scientific researchers, to combat the effects of disease.”

The initial step, says Maxence, was to form a partnership with France Lavande, a cooperative of lavender and lavandin oil producers in the region. “Under the agreement, the members sell to Givaudan through the cooperative and are assured of constant sales, which has brought some welcome stability to the local industry. The partnership initially encouraged more producers to join the cooperative and membership has now stabilised at the 100 mark.”

Maxence says the link with the cooperative has enabled Givaudan to develop a genuinely collaborative relationship with the lavender oil producers. 

“Our close sourcing relationship means we know the origins of our supply chain and we can work together to improve quality. For example, we helped with the installation of an improved oil filtration system.”

In addition to the partnership with the cooperative, Givaudan is seeking to further secure the long-term sustainability of the lavender crop by supporting scientific research to tackle the impact of insect-born diseases. In 2011, we formed a partnership with CRIEPPAM, a research institute that specialises in aromatic, fragrant and medicinal plants, to help nurseries develop healthy plants, cuttings and seedlings.

Today, the Givaudan Foundation continues to support that work with the Swiss FiBL institute of organic agriculture, says Maxence: “The aim is to effectively control phytoplasma-induced disease.” Meanwhile, the Foundation is also supporting CRIEPPAM in developing alternative methods for controlling the spread of the cecidomyia fly, which is responsible for causing high losses of production in the traditional growing regions of the south of France. The findings from these two research programmes will benefit 15,000 lavender producers in France.

“Together, this is a complete approach to sourcing lavender and securing its long-term future,” says Maxence. “We are working hard to be able to continue using the essential oil produced in this special region of France to create inspirational fragrances for many years to come.”