Rosehips
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Sarndra and David Wauchope.
Posted on: February 13, 2000

I am contacting you to see if you might be able to help me with some questions I have in regards to rosehips. I found your name in an article called Herb Overview on the internet at the ATTRA site. We are looking at growing rosehips on a commercial scale on some land we have in the South Island of New Zealand. I read an answer to a question which somebody asked you in regards to picking the wild rosehips growing on their land. However, we are having trouble finding information such as:

1) What is the worldwide supply and demand for rosehip?

2) Which countries are the main producers?

3) Which countries supply good quality rosehip and organic rosehip?

4) What causes the market to fluctuate?

5) What do buyers look for when purchasing rosehip?

Also, is there anybody you know of who has grown rosehips on a commercial scale successfully, either in America or overseas? It would be really appreciated if you could let us know if you have any information which may be able to help us or if you know of someone else who does.

I will attempt to address your questions as best I can, although there is still limited information on this crop because of it’s extreme difficulty in harvest. Once the fruit is harvested, the pith (or seed/fiber) is removed from the shell. It is only the shell which is used to make Rose Hips.

1. What is the worldwide supply and demand for Rosehip? I estimate North American markets now use up to 400,000 lbs./month, for a total usage of about 3,000 ton annually. From this I would extrapolate a world usage of some 45,000 ton annually. These are extrapolated estimates only, and I need to go to UNDICAT (Geneva) for approximate confirmation.

2. Which countries are the main producers? Primary sources for world supplies are Peru, India, and other Central America. Limited productions from Baltic countries, less after Soviet Bloc breakup. It is cultivated extensively throughout Europe and Asia for personal use.

3. Which countries supply good quality Rosehip and organic Rosehip? Most of what is used in North America comes from Peru, via Botanicals International (as the primary importer and grinder). Limited harvests of COG (Certified Organically Grown), although Forest Certification programs are changing that to some extent.

4. What causes the market to fluctuate? Uncertain, other than weather, storms, and the usual "Act of God" stuff. These sources have stabilized over the years, with normal growth demand problems. Beyond that, I have heard of no problems like "overproduction." And, many sources in Peru are from native stands rather than farmed.

5. What do buyers look for when purchasing Rosehip? The "cosmetics" of the product (color and texture) are most important. As with acerola, much of the vitamin C in rose hips is destroyed during ordinary drying or extraction. For this reason most rose hips products are supplemented with synthetic vitamin C.

Rose Hips are taken only from Rosa canina L., R. gallica L., R. rogosa Thumb., R. vilosa L., and other Rosa species. Rose Oil (and Absolute) is taken from Rosa alba L., R. centifolia L., R. damascena Mill., R. gallica L., and their varieties.

The problem with Rose Hips is that the primary markets want a Rose Hip shell (semi-whole), with the seed and fiber-like material removed. The seed has some markets with cattle, but is rather limited, with the inner fiber being mostly useless. The shell is where all the vitamin C is obtained. To date, this is still done by hand (Peruvian labor), with Rose Hip shells selling for less than $0.60 (U.S.) per pound, landed C/F.

What needs to happen to make this feasible for domestic production is the invention of a combine-like machine, somehow removing the whole Rose Hip from the plant, and then having the seed and inner fiber removed during the combine process. The combine would also need a conveyor-like delivery to the hopper for the whole shell, probably something like a New Holland bean harvester.

No one, to date, has built such a device to do this type of job, or even modified an existing device using current technology. This new device would also need to be able to be driven down dried-up riverbanks and other difficult types of terrain where the Rose Hips are mostly found. I don’t expect to see this type of device available for some time, as the markets are limited for its usage, being exclusive to the harvest of Rose Hip shells.

Collection for private usage is quite feasible and fun, with annual needs taking only one day to harvest and shell. The shells then need to be dried to 10% moisture (where they crush easily in the fingers. However, with current labor expectations, commercial productions are not yet feasible in North America.

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