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30 Apr 2015

Josephine Moulds, Guardian (UK)

Morocco: Argan oil production empowers women socially & economically but risk of exploitation remains

"Argan oil: the cost of the beauty industry's latest wonder ingredient", 28 Apr 2015

Argan oil has gone from a natural, tribal ingredient to one of the most prized oils in the world as cosmetics companies have woken up to its anti-ageing properties...Women’s co-operatives have sprung up throughout the argan-producing region but not all are as co-operative as they make out...In recent years, however, women’s co-operatives have been created to meet the surge in demand...L’Oréal, together with its supplier BASF, has set up a sourcing programme in Morocco to foster corporate social responsibility in the argan supply chain. The programme works with an umbrella body involving six women’s co-operatives producing argan oil. As well as access to education and healthcare, the cooperative also provides the women with an opportunity to earn money...There are, however, problems with this burgeoning industry. The Berber women in the co-operatives are ill-equipped to conduct business with international organisations, leaving plenty of scope for exploitation...Rachel Barré, who is responsible for sustainable sourcing within L’Oréal Research & Innovation says: “To lead this cooperative, [the women] have to get access to education..."... [Also refers to L'Occitane en Provence, Lush, Weleda]