Organic tea tree success

Tea tree 2 ladiesAdulteration in the essential oil industry has boosted interest in certified organic tea tree oil in Australia.

New South Wales Australian Certified Organic tea tree grower and oil processor Jenbrook was overwhelmed by interest in its product at a recent California trade show. The company set up a processing outlet on the United States west coast in 2013 as a stepping stone to access the European market. Now there is enough demand in the region to satisfy supply without looking further afield.

Jenbrook’s Robyn Ingersole says there was strong interest from Europe, the US, France, The Netherlands and Norway in their certified organic tea tree oil products at the Natural Product East Expo – one of the largest natural and healthy living expos in the United States.

“They [potential customers] don’t like buying from distributors and are interested in us because we grow and distribute the product. A lot of essential oils are being adulterated. Distributors are bringing in tea tree oil from China and blending it with Australian tea tree oil.

“The Chinese tea tree oil is not really an essential oil. A Certificate of Analysis reveals all the compounds of the Australian tea tree oil but upon further analysis the compounds are synthetics and the base oil used is maybe a palm oil or something else.”

Robyn says people are starting to have their product tested and the adulteration is slowly being exposed. Her market is producers and businesses that make up their own essential oils in bulk or 30ml bottles, hair care, personal care, skincare and aromatherapy products. Jenbrook’s promotions overseas played heavily on the fact that buyers get the product straight from an Australian farm. The company motto is From our farm to your family.

The biggest difference between a certified organic tea tree product and a conventional one is the lack of synthetic chemical fertilisers and pesticides in the farming process. Jenbrook hand harvests from over 800 hectares in the wild for its ‘wild harvested oil’ and is planting more seedlings to expand this category.

The difference in price between conventional and organic tea tree has come down to 25 per cent; however, the company is reviewing its pricing structure – something that hasn’t been done in 20 years of business. Industry yields are down this year due to wetter weather last year, which could affect prices.

When Jenbrook began in the industry tea tree was a product for hippies. Now it’s in the mainstream market because tea tree oil is widely accepted as a solution for anything from acne and head lice to fungicide control on farms.

Robyn says, “The Natural Product East Expo has been a turning point for our business and we look forward to returning to Australia to stocktake our supplies and fulfil orders.”