Over the last few years, you may have found it a little harder to obtain certain essential oils. Suddenly you’re paying double the price for the same oil, and that’s if it’s even in stock. So why has this happened?
The global essential oils market is set to exceed $2 billion by 2024, and with increasing demand comes new pressure to produce and distribute essential oils across the world.
Essential oils are a highly concentrated liquid. This means it can take thousands of petals to produce a drop of pure rose essential oil. Sandalwood can take anywhere between 10 and 40 years to mature, so anything planted from now is decades away from harvesting.
Multiple factors have contributed to the changing availability and price of essential oils. Sadly, some of the larger essential oil distributors have over-farmed certain crops, which means they’re no longer growing back, or taking longer to grow back. Demand has steadily increased over the years, but natural supplies are dwindling.
An interesting example of this is frankincense. In many parts of Africa, local communities are almost entirely dependent on the trade of this resource. Extracting oil from frankincense involves making small cuts into the tree, which over time damages it beyond repair. Forests of frankincense are disappearing due to this unsustainable practice, because the trees aren’t given enough time to repair before more oil is harvested.
Oils such as Rosewood and Sandalwood have been registered as endangered, and as a result they are subject to trade restrictions to protect these species from becoming extinct. If you see large quantities of these oils available, it’s probably harvested in an unsustainable way - or adultered with other oils or additives.
It’s also important to be conservative when using these oils. As highly concentrated liquids, a few drops is enough for perfuming, diffusing, and most other essential oil purposes. By limiting our use of these oils, you can ensure these species and their resources will be around for years to come, as will the trade that supports many local communities across the world.
Another pressing issue for the essential oils industry is climate change. Temperature, rainfall, and sunlight all contribute to the quality of a harvest. And the properties of a crop are dependent on when they’re harvested too. As the earth’s temperature rises, so does the risk of natural disasters and extreme weather conditions. Some of the more delicate oil crops may not survive the droughts - or the heat.
We’re still committed to giving you the best quality oils at a fair price. That’s why we continue to work with suppliers who are devoted to sustainable practices - and won’t risk the quality of their oils either. But this does mean there are oils we struggle to stock, and rather than compromise on quality, we’ll buy in smaller batches when available.