Bulgaria expected to top global producers of lavender for fourth year running

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Rolling purple fields, heady aromas and trampling in distillery vats: but this isn't the south of France, this is Bulgaria's Rose Valley, set to become the world's top lavender oil producer for the fourth year running.

The oil, used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, has long been the calling card of Provence. But Bulgaria's budding producers have taken advantage of flagging French production to seize the number one spot in recent years.

Soil in the Rose Valley is light enough for the crop to flourish, while weather conditions in May and June nourish lavender yielding a high oil percentage.

Head of the distillery, Fillip Lissicharov, said that the country's exports are flourishing so much that France itself is buying up supplies.

"Our production has grown from 30 tons to over 150 tons this year. Quality of the Bulgarian lavender oil is excellent; it is compared to the French top quality. This is the so-called traditional Bulgarian lavender oil. However there are some new plantations in northern Bulgaria which are not up to that quality. Bulgaria has overpassed France in terms of production, due to the disease which is in France for the past seven, eight years. We have good specialists to keep control of the quality. Our company is producing lavender oil for over 20 years, and our main customers are based in France, United States and Asia," he said.

Harvesting takes place from July to August, and despite the increasing use of machinery, many Bulgarians still pick by hand.

To watch the interview with Mr.Filip Lissicharov, please follow the link: http://uatoday.tv/society/bulgaria-expected-to-top-global-producers-of-lavender-for-fourth-year-running-457454.html

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