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BASF celebrates 10th anniversary of the Argan Program in Morocco

Jan 20, 2016

Morocco is the argan tree’s country of origin.

Argan oil and extracts have always been popular in cosmetic applications because of their moisturizing, tightening and anti-aging properties. In Morocco, the argan tree’s country of origin, argan oil production is traditionally run by women. They are usually organized in cooperatives and exploit the argan fruit in an elaborate and time-consuming process, from pulp to the precious oil that is extracted from the kernels.

Ten years ago BASF initiated a partnership with Targanine – a network of six oil processing cooperatives from the region of Agadir in the south of the country. Originally, the Argan Program was designed to study the argan tree and to valorize the oil and its by-products, while diversifying the revenue of the cooperatives and fostering preservation of the argan forest by the local population.

Since then, substantial improvements have been achieved: Between 2005 and 2015, the number of cooperative members involved in argan oil production has increased sixfold and group turnover has risen by 875 percent. Today, 1,000 women from rural areas are working in the cooperatives. They now market 16 different products in total, including by-products, botanical and essential oils, and bee products. The oil and its by-products are supplied to BASF under fair-trade conditions: These include a non-negotiated premium price, payment in advance, a fair trade premium for the oil, and long-term forecasts. Fifty percent of the price paid for oil cakes and pulp is allocated to social funds within the cooperatives; so far, this money has been spent on schemes such as literacy programs and health related initiatives.

“We are very pleased with the results of the program” said Charlotte d’Erceville Dumond, the responsible Research and Development (R&D) Manager at BASF. “Our local partners have consistently achieved greater levels of autonomy and sense of social responsibility. They are now sourcing high-quality argan oil. This in turn enables us to develop first-class ingredients for our customers and – ultimately – consumers, who are increasingly demanding products based on raw materials from renewable sources.”

Targanine network heads for operational excellence

A quality management program – with guidelines, certifications and qualified employees dedicated to quality management – has been implemented, leading to the results of no non-conformity registered since 2012. Procedures have been standardized and a special software application is being used to trace and improve product flow from fruit origin to the customer.

Since 2005, three ingredients from the program have been commercialized by BASF: an organic and fair-trade certified oil (Lipofructyl™ Argan), a skin-tightening protein extract from oil cakes (Argatensyl™), and an anti-aging extract from the leaves of the argan tree that protects the skin from environmental factors (Arganyl™). Now, BASF has added the anti-aging active Argassential™, which especially improves the skin firmness, to this list.

Birgit Hellmann
Global Sustainability Communications