Cō-Impact Sourcing® – Rebuilding Bulgaria


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A Unique Facility

For years, brokers have mostly managed the distilleries that remain in Bulgaria, which means they determined how much and when the farmers would get paid. Many farmers are not paid what they should be, and some are not paid for months or even years until the brokers have sold the oil.

What makes the Esseterre distillery unique is an on-site, stateof- the-art laboratory, including a gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC/MS) machine and a lounge where farmers can watch and wait while their crops are being distilled. “Having this technology on-site at the distillery allows us to not only confirm, while the farmer waits, that their plants produced the highest-quality oil, but also to pay farmers fairly and timely—in this case the same day or the next day,” explains Tim Valentiner, Director of Strategic Sourcing. “We also are enabled to reward bonuses to farmers that are doing the best work and growing plants that result in the highest quality oil. No other distillery in Bulgaria has this capability or priority like we do.”

Other exciting developments have taken place at the distillery since completion just a few months ago. Not only was it ready for this year’s lavender harvest in record time, but it has already had an impact on small-scale farmers. Before the distillery even had a chance to officially open, a melissa farmer came to Esseterre in a panic. He had taken his crop to be distilled at a different distillery nearby, but they had been unable to get a single drop of oil from it. Knowing that there was a new distillery with state-of-the-art equipment, he talked to the management team at Esseterre and begged them to do something. While they had not yet distilled any oil, the team fired up the boilers for an initial test run and were able to obtain a good quantity of oil from his crop. Emily Wright says, “The oil they got was just beautiful. The farmer started crying from both excitement and relief. This story just shows the sophistication of our equipment, and also of our team there.”

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The Future of doTERRA

Esseterre is primarily focusing this first season on Lavender and Melissa oil production, but farmers are capable and anxious to do even more. The distillery is planning to operate at least 200 days per year in order to facilitate a more efficient and optimal use of Bulgaria’s abundant, high-quality aromatic plants. Among the crops that Esseterre will distill during the lavender and melissa off-seasons are blue chamomile, yarrow, fennel, coriander seed, juniper berry, and others. Esseterre has also established relationships with other farmers and distillation partners nearby for expanded capacity as needed.

Corey Lindley says, “Esseterre is a model farming and distilling operation we are very proud of, not only for its top-notch operations, but also for the way in which our Co-Impact Sourcing model is able to bring meaningful impact and opportunity to a part of the world that desperately needs it. This is how we will continue to ensure our supply chain and also ensure we continue to have access to the highest quality essential oils.”

Under Special Management

Part of the secret to Esseterre’s success is the management team behind it. Determined that the distillery needed to be managed and operated by local Bulgarians, the team was carefully selected. Emily Wright explains, “We want to benefit the people and their heritage and help continue their legacy. The management there come from families that have farmed or distilled essential oils for generations. That legacy was dying, and now they get the chance to bring their heritage back to life.”

Expert managers, distillers, farmers, and engineers make up the team. Along with impeccable industry-related skills, the Esseterre team, led by General Manager Plamen Nikolov, is characterized by a shared commitment and common vision to positively impact their own communities and the well-being of small-scale farmers Esseterre is partnering with in Bulgaria. Currently, the distillery directly employs 17 full-time staff. In addition, Esseterre employs upwards of 50 seasonal employees, not counting the hundreds of farmers and others that Esseterre will indirectly employ. There are also many more who are eager to join forces with Esseterre’s mission and the doTERRA Co-Impact Sourcing approach.

While the concept of investing in Bulgaria has been in the works for more than one and a half years, actual construction for the distillery was completed in only five months, between February and June 2016.

The Esseterre distillery is among the largest in the country, housing 12 distillation units (soon to be 14 units later this year).

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