Rare orchid excites French cosmetics industry

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Perfume

In a move that highlights a commitement to sustainable
development, the French cosmetics industry is poised to start
using a rare Madagascar Orchid that is sustainably sourced.

The perfumed white orchid (Angraecum eburneum longicalcar) was all but extinct in its natural habitiat, however, a new project is expected to see Madagascar farmers grow the plant commercially - then export it for use in the French cosmetics industry. Having a powerful image within the industry, orchid extracts are already prevalent in key cosmetic ranges from giants such as Guerlien, Yves Rocher and Clarins. However, the exclusivity of the Madagascan orchid, said to have softening properties, will no doubt instigate battles between key cosmetic and fragrance players hoping to forgelucrative partnerships with the suppliers to guarentee the exclusive plant is incorporated into their portfolios. These partnerships will initiate beneficial projects between the middle men who buy the crops while they are still growing, allowing the cosmetics industry more access than ever before to the 1,200 species of orchid growing on the island. Alban Muller, president of both Alban Muller, a producer of fragrances and flavours, and the Cosmetic Valley grouping of France's top perfumers and fragrance specialists said, "What is impossible nowadays is to ignore environmental issues". "To secure access to resources in projects like these, we need to work fairly and intelligently with local farmers." ​The island has become a haven for rare plant species following its seperation from Africa and Indian landmasses millions of years ago. Acclaimed flower collector Marcel Lecoufle uneartherd the wealth of plant life on the island, discovering 105 species of orchid exclusive to Madagascar. Through his inclusion of Angraecum eburneum longicalcar into his collection in the 1930 the plant was saved from extinction, causing this recent excitement from the French cosmetics industry. Due to the delicacy of the plant, only three laboratories in France are sufficently equipped to handle the reproduction of the orchid. Madagascar has long since sourced ingredients for fragrance manufacturing, including ylang ylang, vetiver and vanilla - another member of the orchard family.

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