French fragrance house Givaudan is extending its so-called Innovative Naturals programme to Laotian benzoin. The project involves economic and social initiatives and aims to ensure a sustainable supply of benzoin, a raw material used in fine fragrances and consumer products and extracted as gum or “tears” from Styrax tonkinensis trees by villagers in northern Laos.
Givaudan’s Innovative Naturals program was launched in 2007, with the aim of enriching the palette of the company’s perfumers with new and exclusive naturals, sourced through sustainable development and fair trade practices.
The project in Laos follows those on the sustainable supplies of sandalwood oil in Australia and tonka beans in Venezuela.
In Laos, Givaudan partnered with Agroforex Company, a producer and exporter of pharmaceutical and aromatic plants, which arranges benzoin production with the local communities
As part of the project, Givaudan has financed the construction of - and the equipment for - a secondary school at Aseuh in Phongsali province with Agroforex’s participation. The school was formally opened in September last year, and at that time was also officially transferred to the Laotian education authorities. In addition, Givaudan is funding the training of teachers for the school over three years.
Givaudan is also participating in a programme launched by Agroforex over a decade ago for the long-term management of the mountain forest ecosystem. A technical course on production for village communities is contributing to improving Styrax tonkinensis planting and benzoin collection by teaching intercropping with rice and red ginger.
New qualities of raw materials, including organic beeswax and organic red ginger oil, as well as other benzoin-based products, have been discovered through this initiative.
“Our sustainable supply project in Laos, with our partner, is a new strategic initiative in our growing naturals programme, to which we aim to add at least one new partnership a year,” says Rémi Pulverail, of the Innovative Naturals programme.