Victoria&K Pure Argan oil and Fair Trade for all
Can Pure Argan oil Provide Fair Trade for all?
Argan oil is now becoming a household name, especially with the likes of top cosmetic brands such as Loreal, Garnier, Pantene and tresemme now offering countless products containing Argan oil on our supermarket shelves. And lets not forget our Isreal brothers that were the first in 2005 to launch the first Argan oil product in the UK market called, Moroccanoil. Exclusive to hairdressers, the brand have been the leaders in opening the floodgates to the world, and have now expanded and launched their own skin product range containing Argan oil.
Its hard to imagine how Morocco is managing to keep up with the western demand and produce the amount of Argan oil needed to supply all these companies. Lets also not forget the smaller businesses, like Victoria&K, who have a close connection to Morocco and feel passionately about Argan oil in its true pure and 100% Organic form. Quite simply, it cant.
In 2012 Morocco exported 700 tons of Argan oil, however it only has the capability of producing half of that number. The work of the women cooperatives quite simply cannot keep up with demand if they where only extracting the oil by hand.
On estimate, if Argan oil was produced A-Z by hand, this is the process:
The women collect the harvest from the Argan forest, without the use of machines, just the help of village donkey which helps to carry the load. They then have to walk, or transport the harvest by truck, to the weekly market.
The harvest is then sold, either bought by cooperatives or privately run businesses. The price of the harvest is only worth what the companies will pay, so if there is a good harvest, they will pay less for the Argan. If he harvest has been bad and there is a high demand for the Argan they will pay more.
Once the harvest has reached its destination, the women now have the laborious task of cracking each nut and exposing the 2 – 3 seeds which are held inside. As our feature picture shows, the women are sitting on the floor, with stones to help them crack the hard shells.
The actual quantities are roughly 20 – 30 kilos of shells will give you aprox 1 kilo of seed/ 500ml of oil.
The seed is either cold pressed (for cosmetic) or heated slightly for culinary use.
The women press the oil by hand by using traditional methods, grinding the seed in the mill as pictured below.
All in all to press 1 litre of of Argan oil will take 1 woman a week of hard manual work. So what about the womens wage? Surly all this hard work will benefit them, by giving them enough money to send their children to a better school? or to pay for medication needed for a loved one?
Victoria&K feel deeply that these women should not be exploited for the gain of the rich Moroccans and Europeans that own the cooperatives.
Companies that sell Pure Argan oil to the western market should not ‘cash in’ by selling the idea that their Argan oil is produced by hand, when this is likely to be a front, and the oil is actually pressed by machine.
Cooperatives should be doing what they are set up to do, Providing an equal share of the profits to the women working in the cooperatives, and provide schooling to the women and their children. And importantly offering an insight to the traditional ways of the Amazigh people, and keeping them alive.
With Victoria&K’s close connections to Morocco, we will be striving to make sure the these women do not have to work like this, We will be going to the remote villages and paying the women directly for their harvest, a fair price without them having to walk or travel to the market, or to sit for long periods of time cracking the seed or working the mill.
Victoria&K have never claimed that their oil is hand made, and to ensure to our customers that our our oil is 100% extra virgin Pure Argan oil we will be pressing the oil ourselves at our UK headquarters.