SA market for fragrances growing fast but dominated by imports

Tea tree oil, also known as Melaleuca oil, is an essential oil distilled from the leaves of this plant. Photo: Nqobile Mbonambi/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa is a small player in global essential oil production but local producers should take advantage of growing demand with the sector expected to be worth $11.67 billion (R177.40bn) by 2022.

According to Karen Swanepoel, the Southern African Essential Oil Producers Association (Saeopa) director and independent researcher for the UN Industrial Development Organisation, South Africa produces 0.01percent of the total essential oils used and produced globally.

South Africa produces 3 000 tons of the global 150 000 tons mainly in the form of eucalyptus and citrus, with an export value of R7.6 million in 2017.

“If we can produce and export, we can solve this demand in a sector that is growing by 10 percent to 25 percent a year – higher than other commodities,” Swanepoel said.

There are 160 essential oils traded globally. The top 10 oils make up some 80 percent of world trade. World trade in essential oils is divided into two components, referred to as the major and minor oils. Major oils are those oils traded in large quantities, but often lower prices.