Some of you may have wondered why we chose the name Carthago Fragrance. At least that's what the Companies Registration Office asked us when we were registering the name. Roses and the scent of gardens don't come to mind. Or do you?
Actually, it's not just to do with the geographical location of ancient Carthage, which is now modern-day Tunisia.
For most people, Carthage is associated with the stories of Hannibal and his elephants crossing the Alps and the Punic wars. What many may not know is that Carthage was also one of the greatest civilizations of antiquity when it came to trade, engineering, architecture, culture but also knowledgeable in agronomy! If you didn't know this, google Mago, the father of agronomy.
So let's delve deeper into this agronomy thing.
"Sustainable development is based on three dimensions: the social, the environmental and the economic...Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Do you agree?
Now let's play the whispering game. You played the whispering game in primary school, didn't you?
Look at the pictures below first.
The first line whispers "Here you have wild rosemary, all natural, We burn in the wild, sometimes with car tires, use rusty machinery, have no control over the process in either heat or pressure, EKO certifies wild plants, we pay no taxes, harvest plants on unauthorized wild lands, the occasional chicken/lamb may go down in the distillation equipment, lands/forests/mountains may accidentally burn etc".
...10 lines later...
The last line tells what they have been told: We have full traceability on the natural ingredients, ECO certificates, carefully handpicked suppliers...for nature and sustainability, just for you.
So, continuing the argument, I want to challenge your thoughts a bit. What did you see in the pictures?
Of course it's natural. Even eco-certified! I was there to witness this. But does it look sustainable?
What could be the reason why few people know what the industry is really like?
I have some theories on this after trying to put myself in the shoes of a buyer/consumer, reading countless articles, doing my own in-depth field research for many years and talking to people at all levels (which I have been privileged to do as I have family already working in the front line).
There are about 11 companies controlling more than 80% of the supply chain in the Flavour & Fragrance industry. A raw material, such as essential oils or hydrolates, can typically pass through 10 intermediaries before it reaches the final consumer. It is simply like the viscose example above. I can say with my hand on my heart that it is almost impossible for a buyer/consumer to trace an ingredient to its origin.
Why is traceability so important? Unfortunately, there is still a lot of adulteration, conjuring and it is quite normal for ingredients to be mixed out with other batches from heaven and earth. So many companies or consumers buy in good faith "Green ingredients", "Sustainable" & "Organic" and the worst thing is that they can only assume what the wholesaler provides. This is usually just SDS (Safety Data Sheets), sometimes GCMS (Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry), organic certifications & COA (Certificates of Authenticity) that have gone through the motions and don't have to be the "truth" about what you actually bought.
I hope to open up a discussion and dialogue about the problems that exist in this hidden industry of botanical commodities.
For you as a business and consumer, I wish you would start asking the vendor where the raw materials come from and how they ensure the raw materials are sustainably sourced. Don't settle for vague answers like the wholesaler you buy from has all the documentation. Ask more!
Let's set a new standard together!
Perhaps the next chapter will be Aut viam inveniam aut faciam, where I ride a colourful Dala horse towards the challenges that lie ahead. The barbarians tear down the gate, for more information use "Amo" (Uncle) Google 😉
(Image credit Wikipedia)