Essential oils are mostly the products of tropical and sub-tropical countries. Africa, climatically, would appear to be very well suited to the industry, but till quite recent years the only African country exporting essential oils was Algeria, where the distillation of Geranium Oil has long been an important local industry. Today, it is still thought by many in the industry that the African continent could become a major producer of essential oils for the world’s flavor and fragrance industry by utilizing its extensive resources. As economic development encourages alternative land use, and local workers increasingly turn to urban areas for more lucrative rewards, the essential oil market will have to seek new natural sources or rely on chemical alternatives. The new natural source for the perfumer and flavorist?
After the First World War, however, a few enterprising settlers in Africa began distilling essential oils experimentally and laid the foundations of a new industry.
The distillation of essential oils is so speculative and requires in all its departments such close supervision, that one sometimes wonders why so many are attracted by it. Is the distillation process less speculative now that the oils and their components are now far more familiar? Further, the supervision required is now the function of quality assurance departments and technological advancements that could have only been dreamt about in 1934.