French perfumers introduced Ylang Ylang to Madagascar during the late 1800s, when the island nation was under French rule. Today, Madagascar produces some of the highest quality Ylang Ylang oil in the world. doTERRA purchases Ylang Ylang oil from growers and distillers on the island of Nosy Be, off the northwest coast of Madagascar.
The Ylang Ylang tree must grow for three to four years before it can be harvested during the peak months of December through March. Growers pick the flowers once they have matured, requiring trees to be harvested several different times within a period of six weeks. On Nosy Be, harvesters collect baskets of flowers and deliver them to a weighing station, where they will be paid based on the weight of their harvest. The flowers are then quickly delivered to nearby distilleries and distilled through a hydrodistillation process within 24 hours of being picked.
Ylang Ylang oil has several different grade profiles—Ylang Ylang 1, 2, 3, “extra,” and “complete.” Each of these profiles contains different aromatic molecules that come out of the flowers during different stages of the distillation process. Although perfumers primarily prefer to use oil from the early profile stages, doTERRA requires the “complete” profile to ensure that all compounds from the Ylang Ylang flowers are included in the oil.
Ylang Ylang Growers
Because growing, picking, and distilling Ylang Ylang is a long, intensive process, a great collective effort among harvesters is required. Ylang Ylang growers and harvesters have often struggled to receive fair treatment, particularly when dealing with middlemen and brokers. Without a guaranteed buyer, distillers are forced to sell their oil to the highest bidder, which typically results in volatile prices and unstable markets.
doTERRA’s Co-Impact Sourcing Initiative in Madagascar
Through doTERRA’s Co-Impact Sourcing partnerships with distillers and harvesters in Nosy Be, Ylang Ylang producers receive proper compensation for their efforts. With doTERRA as a guaranteed buyer, growers are less likely to lose out on income due to price speculation and bidding. Along with fair compensation, growers who produce high quality oil also receive annual bonuses for the quality of their work. This provides them with more resources to help expand their production capacity with new distillation machinery, or to add more growers to their cooperative, which allows for better organization and higher production volumes.