Rosemary, which thrives in hot, dry climates, is native to the Mediterranean region. Known throughout the world as a fragrant culinary herb, it is also used to help extend the shelf-life of food and beverages, due to the intrinsic antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of its active components. Demand for rosemary is growing globally – placing pressure on supply chains and traditional producers.
Rosemary is a critical resource for Givaudan, the Swiss multinational producer of fragrance and flavour products. Givaudan takes its responsibility to the environment and the communities it sources from seriously and identified rosemary as an area where it could make a significant impact.
Givaudan has worked with suppliers wild-harvesting the herb in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco for three decades in a highly sustainable fashion. However, the company needed to find a way to secure supply and to do so in a way which was mindful of the impact on the environment and harvesting communities.
In order to mitigate supply risk, address increasing demand and lower pressure on the crop, Givaudan developed an alternative supply chain of cultivated rosemary. Launched in 2015, this alternative supply is not designed to replace the wild collection model, but to complement it, preserving development opportunities for Moroccan communities.
Givaudan has two programmes, one dedicated to wild collection and the other to cultivation. For both, Givaudan’s procurement and agronomy departments identify relevant suppliers to ensure reliability and availability of supply as well as quality compliance. Ethical commitment and transparency are also key criteria in supplier assessment.
The programmes look to establish win-win partnerships between Givaudan’s procurement function and selected suppliers, creating close cooperation and mutual trust. Suppliers are all required to share Givaudan’s commitment to clean and safe working conditions, good agricultural and collection practices, animal welfare and environmental stewardship.
Wild collection programme
The Givaudan wild collection programme is a highly sustainable model for sourcing rosemary. The plant is harvested by hand in the Atlas mountains and extracted locally at Givaudan’s plant in Casablanca. Under supervision from the Moroccan authorities, the company’s local partners ensure careful selection, preservation of the collection areas and harvest monitoring. Over the last 25 years, Givaudan has focused on long-term relationships and empowerment of local communities (with rural development actions), in close collaboration with the Moroccan authorities.
Rosemary harvesting is a significant source of income for more than 10,000 people in Morocco. Encouraging wild rosemary harvest is part of the Moroccan government’s land preservation strategy, across an area of 1 million hectares. Givaudan’s activities, in close partnership with local cooperatives, fully comply with local regulations, focusing on preservation of biodiversity and protection of nature; ensuring bush regrowth, preventing erosion and bushfires. Carbon footprint from transportation is limited as the collection zones are located no further than 500 km from Givaudan’s in-house extraction plant in Casablanca.
In the contracts Givaudan signs with cooperatives, the company requires strict operating conditions, which clearly show commitments to preservation. These conditions include;
- Rosemary cutting must be done by hand, using pruning shears only, to avoid damaging the plant and its roots.
- Plots resting periods must be strictly observed.
- The harvest takes place from May 1 to November 30. The counter period when the Rosemary bushes are flowering and fruiting is dedicated to regeneration
Givaudan provides a guide to collection practices; expecting harvesters to collect only the top half of the plant, and to respect a three-year plot rotation. A 2 year resting period between harvests allows for resource regeneration.
Cooperative action plans are also devised with suppliers, expecting harvesting cooperatives to commit to maintenance and improvement works, such as consolidating older plants and repairing fences. This complete framework ensures that this wild resource is sustainably sourced, and secures availability for the years to come.
The cultivation programme was established in collaboration with a set of preferred local partners in the Mediterranean region. Identifying partners of choice requires a great deal of expertise, so procurement and agronomic experts have to work hand in hand. Operating as a fully integrated supply chain, the programme delivers high quality rosemary at a reduced environmental footprint.
Through advanced agronomic methods, the company also improves the quality of the rosemary, making it possible to use less raw material during the extraction process. Impact on land use is thus reduced by 75% (when compared to standard-cultivated rosemary).
Farmers are offered 5-year contracts, which contributes to securing their incomes, provides long-term financial resilience and improves local livelihoods.
This framework offers visibility and safety to local partners, enabling them to secure their investment levels, while enabling Givaudan to organise production and supply according to their exact forecasts
The combination of these two programmes brings resiliency to the sourcing of rosemary, and benefits the livelihoods of collectors. Givaudan has developed a dedicated, modern and sustainable sourcing framework which encourages value creation throughout the supply chain.
The programmes have been well received by local stakeholders.
Mr El Rhoul, a wild rosemary supplier, notes: “We have been working with Givaudan for a long time and appreciate the long-term commitment. Givaudan’s help has been very useful in supporting collection cooperatives. It supports local collectors and provides practical advice on how to collect and protect rosemary, in full compliance with the legal framework set up by the Moroccan ministry of Water & Forest Affairs.”
Similarly, a local farmer in the Mediterranean area notes, “My collaboration with Givaudan is important to me as rosemary cultivation ensures continuous activity and bestows value to my land. The long-term contract provides security and visibility and reduces my dependence on market prices. Support from Givaudan’s Agronomy helps me to overcome technical challenges.”
Both programmes are ongoing and regularly monitored, with plans for further development and evaluation of the right balance between both wild & cultivated sources.
Advice for others
Local implantation and on-the-ground expertise are essential to achieve this level of success. Both programmes have been developed over a long period of time, involving local teams and requiring in-depth understanding of the countries’ contexts and cultures.
In order to be sustainable and achieve the desired level of success, projects such as these must create added value for all parties involved in the supply chain; from farmers to pickers, to ingredients manufacturers.