Aim is to stop decline of crops due to blight
The Provence based cosmetics group L'Occitane has been confronted by the problem of bacterial infestation of major areas of lavender production in the region. One of the company's main product ranges is based on lavender and in 2010 accounted for 5% of sales or €610m.
L'Occitane has launched a fund to create bacterium resistant varieties of lavender. It is estimated that over 2000 businesses are engaged in lavender production over an area of more than 44,000 acres in the areas of Provence affected by the blight.
The problem may in fact be more extensive than appears at first sight. France has been a major producer of lavender based oils used widely in the cosmetics and perfumery sectors but production of a natural hybrid of lavender has been declining and has affected producers of soaps and washing products.
Meanwhile, L'Occitane is tied into an accord with 30 fine lavender producers on the Albion plateau under which the company purchases over half their production and provides income of about €50m to this agricultural sector.