Lavender Marketing
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Roger Young
Posted on: July 24, 1998

I am interested in growing lavender as a cash crop. What I need now is how to contact potential buyers.

I wrote about this almost one month ago, but I could add some further thoughts on the marketing, since this seems to be a popular crop for discussion. For a more complete response, you should go back to that previous question on the marketing of Lavender [see "Commercial Growing and Marketing" page under "Q&A" section on the Richters website, http://www.richters.com]. That response contains important information not discussed here, since you should also read that first.

At some point, I plan to build "folders" on each crop or topic, so that they might read as a FAQ - in this case, on the marketing of Lavender. I have also created a detailed Technical Crop Report on how to propagate, grow and harvest Lavender for the commercial herb trade. Those are like mini-books for the serious farmer, complete with disease and insect controls.

I also have in press a companion book to "The Potential of Herbs As A Cash Crop" titled "Successful Farm Plans for North America". This new book will also have a CD-ROM edition, with many of these Technical Crop Reports, and an accounting generator for creating complex spread sheets for the small farm that would like to diversify.

For the Lavender Flower Petals, the smaller buyers are usually regional wholesalers for nutrition centers and the retail herb trade. They would include such companies as Herbarium (Kenosha), Lebermuth (South Bend), and Whole Herb (Mill Valley). There are many new uses being developed for use, including cosmetics and soaps

Larger import houses for the Flower Petals are usually found in and around New York, like Meer Corporation (North Bergen), although Botanicals International (Long Beach) also imports this crop for some of the regional potpourri manufacturers. There is also a limited use of the Flower Petals as a herb tea ingredient.

Most Lavender is sold, however, as an essential oil or flower oil. These companies include Penta Manufacturing (Fairfield), Polarome (Jersey City), Robertet (Oakland), and E.L. Scott & Co (New York), a primary importer. Most of this is used as a perfume ingredient. There are also many different kinds of Lavender, including Spike Lavender Oil and Lavandin Oil, sometimes taken from other plants (like Mentha citrata).

The major distinction among the three oils mentioned is in their relative contents of linalyl acetate, linalool, 1,8-cineole, and camphor. The spread of these four important volatiles determines the price, who can buy it, and where and how it might be used. For more information on these aspect, see my book titled "The Magical And Ritual Use Of Perfumes (and how to blend oils)".

As you can see, this is a more detailed aspect of marketing which must be considered when selecting specific crops, and why you might want (or not) to consider their cultivation as an alternative crop in your overall farm program. Most of these oils can be easily taken via steam distillation, commonly used for other Mint Oils.

Don’t forget to review my earlier comments in a previously posted question for some of the FIRST CONSIDERATIONS in growing this crop for market.

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