Delicate almond blossoms and fragrant fields of lavender of Alpes-de Haute-Provence have long inspired the perfumes, beauty, and wellbeing products of l’Occitane.
Almond and L' Occitane
Founded in 1976, l’Occitane has maintained an unwavering dedication to the protection and preservation of its natural, high-quality ingredients and the landscapes from which they are derived. Working directly with more than 130 French farmers and 10,000 pickers – from the immortelle fields of Corsica to the lavender fields of Provence, the company also ensures its ingredients are sourced as sustainably as possible.
The high, sun-drenched plains of Valensole in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence are home to 80 hectares of almond groves belonging to Jean-Pierre Jaubert, whose family has called Provence home for over three centuries.
As spring arrives, it is Jaubert’s almond trees – with their inimitable white flowers, which are the first to bloom in Provence. Each tree produces about 8kg of almonds, from which a litre of oil is extracted; this prized ingredient features in many popular products in L’Occitane’s almond collection, including almond shower oil – a bottle of which is sold every 15 seconds worldwide.
Respecting biodiversity at L' Occitane
It’s on Jaubert’s Provence property, in partnership with L’Occitane, that prudent steps are being taken to also preserve and protect the fragile ecosystems that support sustainable almond production.
Almond flower © Sylvain Duffard
“We know the power of nature, our intention at l’Occitane has always been to share nature’s wonders and to do this we have to respect biodiversity long term. This is why it is one of our core commitments, along with reducing waste and caring for sight,” says Pierre-Emmanuel Joffre, Managing Director L’Occitane Australia.
Drawing from agroecological principles, the soil is enriched with a variety of plant species sown in Spring. The vegetation cover serves as pasture for the sheep, which in turn is carefully managed by their grazing. “The land is fed with nothing but nature’s ingredients,” says Jean-Charles Lhommet, head of L’Occitane’s biodiversity department. “With agroecological practices, covering the soil, reintroducing trees, putting biodiversity back at the centre of production…will re-establish the balance between micro-organisms and insects. A balanced system will allow greater disease resistance and so forth.”
Quality, not quantity at L' Occitane
“With agroecology, we ask less from trees…we ask for a smaller output, but we need quality. Today, quality matters,” explains Jaubert. A dire threat in the 1960s – the advent of more profitable crops, such as olives – saw almond trees almost disappear from the Provençal landscape.
2021 summer shooting almond best body care © L’Occitane
Fortunately, L’Occitane’s partnership with Jaubert and other producers in southern France and the Mediterranean basin saw their replenishment within the region, and nowadays they are thriving. As part of its commitment to sustainability, L’Occitane not only purchases the local nuts whole, but also the broken almonds – to be used, for example, in body scrubs.
Using such principles of environmental sustainability are part of a broader global goal to protect and replant more than 1000 plant varieties by 2025 in Provence and in other corners of the world. This is all part of the L’Occitane en Provence global commitments.
L’Occitane en Provence