Sourcing that Nurtures—and Sustains.
Whenever available, we source the ingredients for our natural skin care products from biodynamic or organic farms, however in some cases an organic version of a raw material is not yet available on the global market. Rather than accept an ingredient of inferior quality or from a questionable source, we initiate organic or biodynamic farming projects.
Dr. Hauschka works with local communities around the world to establish fair trade initiatives that provide us with the highest quality botanical ingredients while helping to promote sustainable agriculture and economic self-reliance.
First organic mango butter worldwide
Although mango butter is an important raw material for skin care manufacturers, it had never been available in organic quality. That is, until Dr. Hauschka set the wheels in motion for a raw materials project in India. Both the project and the raw material passed the testing stage, meaning that Dr. Hauschka will now use only organic mango butter for its line of natural skin care products. Sourcing this valuable raw material in organic quality comes at a price: Dr. Hauschka pays 10 times the world market price for conventional mango butter, approximately $80 - $100 per pound.
Christine Ellinger – a raw materials purchaser at WALA Heilmittel, the manufacturer of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care, is the driving force behind organic mango butter. Our aim is to expand organic farming worldwide. As Christine Ellinger says, “Organic farming benefits both people and their natural surroundings.” She found it hard to believe that although mangos were already being grown in ecologically certified quality, the fruit’s valuable stones were not being put to good use. As she explains, “Some of the organic mangos on the market are sold as fresh fruit, but most of it reaches consumers in the form of juice or dried fruit.” This leaves the skin and the stone behind, with the stone being the very part of the fruit that most interested Christine Ellinger as it contained valuable raw materials for cosmetics.
Organic mango butter – a processing project
Mangos grow in many different parts of the world. Christine Ellinger travelled the globe to meet potential business partners until she found the right one in 2008: Nanalal Satra, Managing Director of the Castor Products Company in India, a company that had already been producing organic cold-pressed castor oil for WALA for several years. “Nanalal Satra understood immediately what we needed”, says Christine Ellinger. In spite of this, it took some time to develop a process for producing organic mango butter. Christine Ellinger’s project was leading her into uncharted territory and there were many questions to be answered. For instance, how to extract the mango seeds from the mango stone? Or how should we extract the mango butter from the seeds and how can we ensure that the mango butter remains stable without using artificial preservatives? As Christine Ellinger reports, “In the beginning, we didn’t know what quantity of fruit was necessary to produce the amount of organic mango butter we required.” With a view to finding this out, the first processing attempts took place in 2009.
In order to obtain the mango butter, the stones first need to be dried in the sun for a number of days. The stones can then be cut open by hand and the seeds removed for further drying. Quite a challenge, given that the rainy season begins shortly after the mango harvest. As a result, it is usually necessary to dry some of the seeds in ovens. In order to minimize the amount of non-renewable energy used, Nanalal Satra and WALA looked to solar energy. “We commissioned a study to ascertain the best way to dry seeds using solar energy,” says Christine Ellinger. As soon as all of the seeds are dry, they are sent by ship to Germany where the valuable organic mango butter is extracted. WALA’s aim is to source the mango butter directly from India so a greater part of the value-adding process remains in the country. Even at this early stage in this project, significant value has been added given that the stones are no longer discarded or burnt but processed. The benefit to Nanalal Satra is that he can employ an extra forty seasonal workers for the purpose of extracting the organic mango stones
Mango butter – raw material with a melting texture
Mango butter has a similar consistency to cocoa butter. It nourishes the skin, providing fatty acids and helping to keep it soft and supple. Mango butter also helps to reduce fine lines and is particularly effective at treating rough skin. Mango butter is also edible and is used, among other things, to make chocolate.
Mango butter at Dr. Hauschka
The following Dr. Hauschka products contain organic mango butter:
Introducing rose essential oil from Ethiopia
When it comes to sources of rose essential oil, countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria and Afghanistan come to mind – but Ethiopia? As it turns out, the Ethiopian highlands, which are known for their coffee, provide the ideal conditions for growing the very fragrant Damask rose, and the rosa damascena grown there yields an exceptionally precious essential oil.
In 2005, Ethiopian farmer Fekade Lakew joined forces with Dr. Hauschka Skin Care manufacturer WALA Heilmittel and began cultivating Damask roses in keeping with the principles of biodynamic agriculture. He has now expanded his land area to 25 hectares. In 2012, he distilled his first batch of essential rose oil. This was the first rose oil production in sub-Saharan Africa that transitioned to organic standards. In line with its high quality standards and related commitment to only use raw materials obtained from biodynamic or controlled organic cultivation wherever possible, WALA believes that it is extremely important to establish new raw material partnerships.
The rose farm Terra PLC is located in Debre Birhan, some 125 kilometers north of Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa, at an altitude of 2900 meters. This high mountainous landscape is ideal for growing Damask roses.
The project began in 2002 when vegetables were planted. After that came a brief phase of cultivating cut roses, but they did not tolerate the late frosts which can occur in the Ethiopian highlands. Fekade Lakew therefore decided to cultivate the more robust Damask roses.
He was soon in contact with WALA, where his work was met with enthusiasm and great interest. “We had long been considering an attempt at growing roses near the Equator,” said Ralf Kunert, head of raw-material purchasing for Dr. Hauschka Skin Care products, because the closer plants grow to the Equator, the longer they blossom. In countries known for cultivating roses, such as Bulgaria and Turkey roses bloom within four weeks and must be harvested within this time period whereas it takes eight weeks for this to occur in Debre Birhan. “This is a huge advantage,” Ralf Kunert explains. “It means that we have twice the amount of time to harvest the same amount of rose blossoms.” In other words, there is less pressure on the farmers to finish the harvest quickly; fewer rose pickers are needed, and pickers can be often be employed beyond the season itself. Furthermore, the quality of the roses can be monitored more closely during picking and the output of the distillation unit is more consistent. Last but not least, Ethiopian highland roses offer yet another benefit: at four grams per blossom, they are nearly twice as heavy as the rose blossoms from other countries, which typically weigh 2 - 2.5 grams.
WALA accepts social responsibility
WALA provided motivation for the project by donating the rose cuttings. After nine years' time, the plants had turned into hearty rose bushes. To make sure that the roses received the proper care from the very beginning and to create the best possible conditions, WALA provided and continues to offer Fekade Lakew and his employees a consultant in the field of biodynamic agriculture. The expert visits the rose farm several times each year to train and advise employees about how to properly cultivate the roses. As a means of ensuring compliance with the high standards WALA upholds for the raw materials it processes, the first certification audit was held in 2012 in keeping with Demeter guidelines and the fair-trade standard “Fair for Life.” WALA financed the costs of the audit. Later that year, a distillation unit was installed. Funding came from WALA and the German aid organization Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) , which acted under contract with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). “It is important to us that knowledge is generated in the country itself and amongst our project partners. Helping people to help themselves is WALA's maxim,” Ralf Kunert states.
The objective of every WALA raw-material project is to expand biological agriculture across the globe. Partners are supported on site with funding and technical expertise. WALA signs a contract to purchase the raw materials yielded by the project. This gives the project partners security in planning, and their employees can be paid their wages on a regular basis. In its supplier relations, WALA pays special attention to decent working conditions, fair wages, and conscientious and responsible use of environmental resources.
2.5 acres of roses for 6 liters of essential rose oil
Approximately 2.5 acres of roses is needed to obtain 6 liters of the precious oil which is used in nearly all our natural skin care products and in many WALA medicines. WALA has agreed to purchase all of the rose oil produced at the farm for a period of ten years. “After that, Fekade Lakew should also offer his role oil to other purchasers,” Ralf Kunert says. “We don't want a project partner to be dependent on us; instead, they need to have several customers so they can stand on their own two feet.”
In the meantime, Fekade Lakew has leased another 34 acres of land in Angolela, some ten kilometres away. The state currently does not permit private land ownership with the exception of a very small lot for personal use. Several rose bushes grow in Angolela, and soon there will be many more if farmers in the region follow Fekade Lakew's example. This may happen rapidly, since people in a neighboring village have expressed interest. If all goes well, they too will start growing roses and have rose essential oil produced in the distillation unit at Terra PLC. The roses are blooming in Ethiopia, and as they do, the economic and social situation of some families there can slowly but steadily improve.
From the Cape of Good Hope: Ice plants from South Africa
The ice plant at the heart of Dr. Hauschka Med Skin products originates in South Africa. We visit with Ulrich Feiter, who cultivates ice plants and whose relationship with Dr. Hauschka Skin Care dates back many years.
Seven o’clock on a winter morning in South Africa. The call of the ibis cuts through the silence. The sun has just risen when seven employees of the South African Parceval Ltd. Pharmaceuticals begin harvesting the ice plants that grow on the fields of the company’s Waterkloof Farm. It is 57 degrees Fahrenheit on this August morning, cool in comparison to the 113 degrees often reached here in summer. Today’s harvest target is 1.5 tons; since the plants have grown lavishly, it is reached after just three hours.
Parceval Ltd. Pharmaceuticals produces approximately ten tons of ice plants (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) each year on its biodynamically-cultivated, certified organic Waterkloof Farm. For 14 years Tomke Heeren, originally from the East Friesian region of Germany, has worked with eleven employees to produce seeds and compost, cultivate young plants and harvest grown ones. “We cultivate the ice plant in the winter months because it grows faster and is juicer,” explains Heeren, who has a degree in horticulture. In the natural habitat of the ice plant, one recognizes its true nature. As a pioneer plant, it likes to colonize areas whose normal ecosystem has been disturbed.
Ulrich Feiter is the founder and head of Parceval Ltd. Pharmaceuticals. His association with Dr. Hauschka Skin Care dates back as far as 1986. At that time, the trained gardener worked for almost two years as an intern in different departments at WALA, the manufacturer of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care. Among other things, he received an introduction to the rhythmic manufacturing process, which is used to produce the stable, water-based plant extracts known as mother tinctures. Feiter went to South Africa armed with this knowledge and a contract with WALA to produce mother tinctures from the heat-loving kalanchoe plant.
Ulrich Feiter does not see his role in South Africa as merely that of a contract manufacturer. “It was never about the profit”, he says when asked about his vision. He has always been far more interested in passing on ideas, building bridges and helping Africa. This is why in 2005 he initiated AAMPS, the Association for African Medicinal Plants Standards, an organization which most recently published descriptions of more than 50 African medicinal plants with the aim of promoting their use. He is also currently doing the preliminary work for setting up an employee foundation which will give his employees a financial stake in Parceval and a voice in the company's business decisions. Building a shared sense of responsibility is a major challenge, requiring patience and many discussions. But it is the right step going forward.
Organic castor oil from India
Castor oil is a moisturizing component in a variety of our natural skin care products and is the base of several Dr. Hauschka Bath Essences. When WALA decided to transition to certified organic castor oil, it was discovered that this raw material was not available in organic quality anywhere in the world. But this could be changed, WALA raw materials purchaser Christine Ellinger said to herself in 2005, and she began reaching out to organic farmers in India and to Satvik, an Indian non-governmental organisation (NGO).
A motivated group of ecologically-minded Indian farmers founded a NGO called Satvik in 1995. Its initial aim was to promote rain-fed farming, a method suited to the ecology of the arid Kutch region of northern India. After a strong earthquake killed at least 20,000 people in this district in 2001 and many survivors struggled to maintain their livelihoods, it became all the more important to switch to a method of farming that was less cost intensive that also preserved or improved soil fertility. Satvik’s efforts became more important than ever.
The first certified organic castor oil
When Christine Ellinger, an ecotrophologist and agricultural scientist, approached Satvik with her inquiry about organic castor oil in 2005, she came at exactly the right time. The farmers were already following organic criteria in their production, but had not yet received official organic certification. By providing financial support for Satvik’s advisory function as well as the benefit of WALA’s many years of experience, the company was able to help obtain organic certification for the entire castor oil plant cultivation and processing chain from the Institute for Market Ecology (IMO). This independent certification body tests ecological aspects of products, agriculture, processing, import and commerce for compliance with EU organic regulations. 2005 marked the beginning of a longstanding partnership that led to the world première of certified organic castor oil.
My dream is to process only organically cultivated castor beans
Nanalal Satra, owner and managing director of Castor Products Company in Nandgam in India’s Kutch district, has been in contact with WALA since 2005. Christine Ellinger’s proposal prompted Satvik to initiate contact between WALA and Nanalal Satra. Since 2007, his oil pressing facility has been producing cold-pressed castor oil from the organically cultivated castor beans that he purchases from organically certified farms in the region – for a price that is 15 to 18 percent higher than that of conventionally grown castor beans. He was so enthusiastic about the organic production methods that in 2009 he set up another production line, certified by IMO, which is used exclusively for the production of organically certified castor oil. Nanalal Satra has used the increased revenues from the sales of organic castor oil to set up recreation rooms for his workers, to support farmers in transitioning to organic cultivation and receiving certification, and to make it possible for the farmers to cook using biogas. Fifty farmers have already received financing for biogas systems – which provide a family with one cow enough fuel to cook all their meals. In the arid, almost treeless Kutch region, this is a blessing.
Financial independence as a main goal
Today the agricultural land of a 140 families has been organically certified. They grow approximately 277 tons of castor beans on approximately 2,900 acres of land – ensuring a regular source of supplementary income. Nanalal Satra’s oil production of 60 tons per year now far exceeds the demand from WALA, allowing him to cooperate with several different trading partners. “This is in our interest as well”, says Christine Ellinger. One of WALA’s major goals is to encourage and support industries in structurally disadvantaged areas until they become stable and self-sustaining as this helps the people of the region to achieve financial independence and improved social conditions. In addition to business advice, the NGO runs health and education programs. When Christine Ellinger visits, she pays attention to the development of the community. The last time she was there, Nanalal Satra proudly showed her the improved recreational rooms for his employees. Christine Ellinger’s happiness is written on her face. Encounters between different cultures can bear a variety of fruits.
Roses from Afghanistan
In order to combat the opium trade– 80 percent of the world's heroin supply comes from Afghanistan – it is essential to offer the people an alternative means of securing a livelihood. In October 2004, on the initiative of German Agro Action, a project for producing rose oil was started in which 400 farmers are now growing Damask roses on 148 acres of land. With this project, the ancient Afghan tradition of producing rose oil was brought back to life. Also inspiring were the first harvests, pleasing in both quantity and quality.
WALA first expressed an interest in the Afghan rose oil in the summer of 2006 and has since supported the project with expertise and knowledge. The joint project provides us with an additional source of the costly ingredient for our line of natural skin care products—especially important considering the growing demand for oils from ecologically-cultivated plants. The collaboration between WALA and German Agro Action was made possible by the fact that the farmers were willing to undergo certification to comply with the requirements of natural skin care.
Shea Butter from Burkina Faso
In 2001, WALA Heilmittel began supporting a shea butter project in Burkina Faso. In this project, women in several villages within a protected, certified organic collecting area for shea (or karité) nuts produce raw shea butter (beurre de karité) in the traditional manner. For many families, the sale of shea butter is an important source of income. WALA helps to preserve these village communities by purchasing the shea butter from the villages at above-average prices and giving long-term purchase guarantees. Through the project, the villages receive financial, advisory and organizational assistance with obtaining organic certification. In August 2004, the second main inspection for organic certification took place, which meant the project had reached a further milestone.
Country of honorable people
You’ll find Burkina Faso in West Africa, next to the Ivory Coast and Ghana. The country used to be called Upper Volta after its three major rivers: the Red Volta, Black Volta and White Volta. Burkina Faso means "Country of Honorable People" or "Country of the Incorruptible." Located on a plateau, the country is characterized by a moist savannah, bush land and semi-desert environs. In the last few years, this already poor country, dependent mainly on farming, has been heavily hit by drought. The people here on the edge of the Sahel zone can only survive with the help of plants which have adapted to the drought periods, such as the shea tree.
Holy tree of the savannah: the shea tree
Small by the standards of its native country, the gnarled shea tree grows to a height of 10 to 15 meters and is part of the natural vegetation in a belt about 300 km wide extending from Mali through Burkina Faso to Ghana, Togo and Benin. This "shea belt" is the only place in the world where this tree thrives. The lactiferous tree with its leathery leaves does not flower until it is 20 years old and only reaches maximum productive capacity at the age of 30 years, remaining fully productive for more than 100 years. The plum-shaped fruits which become green when they ripen have a diameter of up to 4 cm. The soft green outer skin is a popular food. With their fat content of up to fifty-percent, the kernels (nuts) are a sought-after and traditional source of fat for skin care and cooking in Burkina Faso. Because of its great importance, the shea tree is considered by the native population to be a holy tree and its felling is prohibited.
Women´s gold: Shea butter
Shea butter is women's business. When the time comes round for making shea butter, also known as karité, the women assemble at a central place in their village which is specially set up for this purpose. The harvested nuts are dried and shelled, heated in a clay oven then pounded in mortars. The resulting mass is mixed with water and beaten for approximately 45 minutes. The butter separates and can be skimmed off (the process is comparable to churning milk to make butter). The product is a slightly pungent-smelling, whitish-yellow mass, the unrefined shea butter. The finished butter is stored in a warehouse used expressly for this purpose until it is shipped.
Shea butter for our certified natural skin care products
The first contact between Burkina Faso and WALA was in 2001. The freelance project adviser Hermann Schopferer approached the manufacturer of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care suggesting a cooperation.
The idea: high-quality shea butter produced by traditional methods for high-quality natural skin care products. WALA was interested and agreed to the partnership. Hermann Schopferer had already organized and managed several economic sustainability projects in Africa, particularly in Burkina Faso. He knew the country and the people, and chose to establish the initiative in the more rainy, moderate south west of Burkina Faso with its good stock of shea trees, about 400 km from the capital city Ouagadougou.
Green bush and yellow clay
People stressed by the pace of modern life would likely find peace in the villages of Diarabakkoko in Burkina Faso. No electricity, no telephone, no traffic to invade the peace and quiet. People live simply from what they are able to grow themselves. Millet is one of the staple foods of their unvaried menu; meat is rare. To earn money the women and men go – on foot – to the market 15 kilometres away where they sell a portion of the produce or food they have prepared themselves.
Making more out of shea nuts
Harvesting shea nuts is a traditional activity of the villages in Burkina Faso. Foreign refineries have exploited the oil-rich nuts for a long time, buying them cheaply in the villages. Thanks to the shea butter project with WALA, villages earn seven times more income by selling the shea butter they have made from the nuts rather than the nuts themselves.
Doing good and better
Some 350 women from two villages are currently producing shea butter for WALA. The women have organized a producers' cooperative, a purely women's community as is common and normal in Africa. Shea butter was always women's business. For the project, the women have given themselves the name 'IKEUFA' (faire bien et meilleur de Diarabakoko) meaning “do good and better in Diarabakoko.”
All positions in the cooperative, from the president to the treasurer to the secretary, are elected by the village women. "The women are traditionally very independent" says Hermann Schopferer. They have always had their own fields and earned their own money which they administer themselves. The self-assured Burkina Faso women discuss all project issues in detail with Schopferer, such as the question of how to best meet WALA's high standards of quality and hygiene. The money earned from selling the shea butter enables the women to pay the school fees for their children and to send all their children to school instead of just one or two. It also allows them to meet their basic needs for food and medicine.
Shea butter from Burkina Faso: some facts
During the project’s initial phase in 2001, WALA supported the Shea Butter Project by financing the advisor Hermann Schopferer who visited the country several times a year to ensure the required quality standards were met and to prepare the annual organic certification. In 2002, nuts were collected for WALA for the first time and used to make shea butter. The women were paid by WALA in advance at above-average prices. The money allowed them to purchase the equipment, materials for shipping etc. In autumn 2002, the first consignment of shea butter was shipped to WALA in Germany by land and sea. In 2003, the project received organic certification. The amount of shea butter produced was enough to meet WALA's requirements in full. Processing of the harvest begin every August. At the same time, the organic certification, which has to be renewed annually, will be carried out. WALA guarantees to purchase fixed amounts and provides the women with investment aid so as to secure the required ingredient quality for the long term.