The bitter orange trees used for our Petitgrain essential oil are located in central and eastern Paraguay. Paraguay has produced Petitgrain essential oil for decades, so producers have the knowledge to distill high-quality essential oil. By sourcing Petitgrain from Paraguay through our Co-Impact Sourcing initiative, we support rural community development projects and provide diversified income for small-scale farmers.
Petitgrain has a variety of historical uses supported by emerging scientific evidence.
How does it work?
Petitgrain comes from the bitter orange tree. Three essential oils are derived from the bitter orange tree: Petitgrain is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the tree, Neroli essential oil is distilled from the blossoms, and Bitter Orange oil is produced by cold pressing the rinds of the fruits. The same tree cannot be used for all three oils, however, due to timing. This is one reason why we source our Petitgrain essential oil from Paraguay and our Neroli essential oil from Egypt.
Our Petitgrain is sourced from small-scale producers in Paraguay who grow, harvest, and distill the oil on their own land. Many farmers use it as a sort of “savings” account—when they need additional funds for something (for example, school), they harvest the trees, produce the oil, and then sell it for the additional needed income. Trees can be harvested up to twice per year, and the leaves and twigs that have already been distilled are used as mulch, fuel for the distillation units, or as animal feed.
Ensuring Environmental Stewardship
Bitter orange trees grow throughout Paraguay; however, production has declined over the last few decades, leaving plantations as well as wild trees unharvested due to lack of demand. Unfortunately, forest lands are being destroyed at an alarming pace in eastern Paraguay, so these trees and the rich biodiversity of the Atlantic forests in that area are under threat. Farmers in Paraguay who produce Petitgrain also produce a number of other crops. Many largescale farmers will clear their land completely, planting only soy or corn. This depletes the soil and removes habitat for animals. Encouraging farmers to diversify their fields and produce Petitgrain essential oil not only provides farmers with a diverse income, but also provides environmentally friendly alternatives for land use. We have linked this project with a rural development initiative run by Fundación Paraguaya. Organized producers can work with Fundación Paraguaya to request needed funds to build or refurbish their local stills. Sourcing from Paraguay provides farmers with an economically viable alternative to clear-cutting land, dramatically helping to protect the remaining patches of the Atlantic Rainforest in eastern Paraguay.
Our purposes for sourcing Petitgrain in Paraguay are to provide an additional stream of income for hundreds of marginalized smallholder farmers and indigenous Petitgrain producers, ensure a sustainable supply of high-quality Paraguayan Petitgrain essential oil, and help protect remaining patches of Paraguay’s Atlantic Forest.