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Essential oils are aromatics or odorous, oily liquids (sometimes semi-liquid or solid)
obtained from parts of plants, such as flowers, buds, seeds, leaves, twigs, bark, herbs,
woods, fruits and roots. Essential oils are mainly used in the food industry as flavouring
agents, in the perfume industry for fragrances and in the pharmaceutical industry for
adding taste or smell or suppressing the less desirable medicine taste.
Owing to Turkey’s suitable climatic and ecological conditions, hundreds of medical and
aromatic plants are cultivated or gathered from the nature. Turkey is one of the countries
best suited for organic cultivation.
In Turkey, there are many plants from which essential oils are produced and rose is the
most popular one.
Rose oil is steam distilled from the flowers of the Rose damascena. Rose oil, its extracts
and derivates are among the most important ingredients of natural perfume. They have
remarkable diffusive power and are used in many types of perfume bases, particularly
blending well with other florals.
Rose oil is a very expensive essential oil, partly due to the lack of quality natural and
synthetic substitutes. The short flowering time of the Rose damascena is another reason
for its high price.
Rose damascena was brought to Anatolia in 1870 by immigrants from Bulgaria. In 1888
cultivation of the rose began in Isparta and in 1892 the production of rose oil was
accomplished by a person named “Müftüzade İsmail Efendi”. For years, rose oil was
produced in simple and primitive boilers which Muftuzade Ismail Efendi called “Sitil”. This
method of production continued up to 1935 until Atatürk, the founder of Republic of
Turkey, first came to Isparta and instructed the Minister of Economy to build a large
industrial plant. Then the agricultural cooperative, “Gülbirlik-Gül Gülyağı ve Yağlı Tohumlar
Tarım Satış Kooperatifleri Birliği”, established the first rose oil plant in 1958 and other rose
oil complexes in 1967. Today, rose oil production in Turkey is realized mostly in industrial
Rose cultivation for mainly rose oil production takes place in Isparta, in the south-west part
of Anatolia in Turkey. The Turkish rose oil sector has significant production and export
Turkey is among the top producers of rose oil in the world. World-famous “Turkish Rose
Oil” is produced in large quantities in Turkey. Rose oil production has been realised for
over 100 years in Isparta. That is why Isparta is called the “Rose District”. Roses are also
cultivated in the Afyon, Burdur and Denizli districts. Approximately 1.5 tons of rose oil and
7 tons of rose concrete are produced in Turkey annually.
Rose Oil Production Areas: Isparta, Afyon, Burdur, Denizli
The areas of rose cultivation expanded and cultivation began
in Afyon and Denizli in 1989 in addition to Isparta and Burdur.
Rose Oil Production Areas in Turkey (Unit: da)
“Gülbirlik - Gül Gülyağı ve Yağlı Tohumlar Tarım Satış Kooperatifleri Birliği” is the main
producer of rose oil. Gülbirlik was established in 1954 as the union of nine founder
cooperatives. At present it consists of 6 cooperatives, 8,000 members, 4 rose oil factories
in 3 separate locations and 2 rose concrete factories. Gülbirlik processes 3 tons of rose
flower daily in its factories according to Turkish and world standards, and it is the largest
manufacturer and exporter in this field both in Turkey and in the world. Gülbirlik recently
started to manufacture various valve added rose oil products such as rose oil based
cosmetics and rose oil flavoured sweet. There is another cooperative in Afyon, namely
“Başmakçı Gül Kooperatifi” which has 3,000 members. The cooperative produces
ecologically certified rose oil. There are also 8 medium and small size private companies
in the sector. Two of them are French originated firms and make production mostly for
their parent companies. Besides, there are various family owned workshop scale places of
production in the villages of Isparta and in the other provinces.
Roses are gathered during the 40-day flowering season which is in May and June. The
humidity and cloudiness during the season have an effect on the yield and quality of rose
There are two methods for Turkish rose oil distillation: the traditional but slowly
disappearing village-type distillation using log-fired crude copper boilers known as
“Imbeks” and the modern factory production method using hydro-steam distillation in
boilers called “Kazans”. Both methods have distinctive characteristics but the quality of
rose oil produced by these two methods is the same.
Physical and chemical characteristics of Turkish rose oil:
Odour Description : Strong and sweet rosaceous character
Appearance : Liquid
Colour : Light Yellow - Green
Specific Gravity : 0.844-0.868 (25 C)
Refractive Index : 1.4520 - 1.4630 (25 C)
Optical Rotation : -3.3to -5.9 (25 C)
Flash Point : Not determined
Solubility : In Alcohol 90 %
Purity : 100 % Natural
Intended Use : Perfumery – Flavour production
Turkish Rose Damascena products can be grouped in four categories:
Rose oil is produced by steam distillation of Rosa damascena M., the pink, light red rose
and Rosa Alba L., the white rose flowers. 3,000 litre boilers (sitil in Turkish) made of
copper are used for distillation. Rose oil is a blend of decante-direct-oil and water oil which
are obtained in two steps by distillation.
Rose oil is the most important and the most expensive raw material of the perfumery and
cosmetic industries. The best quality rose oil, in accordance with world standards, is
produced from the rose flowers which are grown in Isparta and the surrounding area at a
level of 1,050 m or more above sea level during May and June.
Rose concrete is a waxy product produced via extraction from rose flowers with volatile
solvents such as hexane and subsequently by evaporation of the solvent in a vacuum. It is
used to produce rose absolute, which is one of the raw materials used in the perfumery
and cosmetics industries.
Rose water is a by-product obtained during the distillation of rose flowers. It is natural rose
smelling water which is obtained by mixing pure, clean hot water with oil water in the ratio
of one to one during the production of rose oil. Then it is filtered several times and bottled.
It is used as an aroma for some foods and sweets, and also to clean make-up and the
body since it is natural and pure.
Rose absolute is obtained via the extraction of rose concrete with alcohol. The alcoholic
solution is distilled under a vacuum to remove the alcohol.
Turkey produces many other essential oils
In addition to rose oil, which is a traditional product, other essential oils are also produced
in large quantities in Turkey. The most popular ones are laurel leaf oil, origanum oil,
lavender oil and mint oil. The other essential oils produced are myrtle oil, fennel oil, anise
oil, cumin seed oil, sage oil, juniper oil, rosemary oil, melissa oil, pennyroyal oil, styrax oil
and vitex oil.
Two species are important commercial sources of styrax. Styrax oil is extracted in Turkey
from Liquiambar orientalis which is a tree of 15-20 meters tall. This species is native to
eastern Mediterranean Europe and the Near East, and is the source of styrax oil known as
Asian styrax. The only country in the world for this type of styrax oil is Turkey. Production
is made in limited amounts by using traditional methods in workshop scale places. The
production takes place particularly in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Regions. The
other species is L. styraciflua, a tree native to the south-eastern United States, Mexico and
Central America. It is the source of essential oil called American styrax.
“Laurel leaf oil”, which is famous worldwide, is produced in large quantities in Mersin,
Antakya and its surrounding regions.
Parallel to the increases in both domestic and world demand, the amount of essential oils
produced is increasing every year.
Turkish essential oil exports are showing an increasing trend depending on world prices
and cultivation. The exports of essential oils, their by-products and resinoids reached US$
22 million in 2011. The major part of Turkish essential oil exports consisted of rose oil.
Rose oil has been a traditional export item, followed by stearopten oil and origanium oil.
Essential oils were mainly exported to the European countries. Major destinations for
essential oils were France, Germany, the UK, the USA and Switzerland. These countries
accounted for 87 % of total Turkish essential oils exports in 2010.
The Turkish rose oil industry is highly competitive worldwide. Foreign trade of Turkish rose
oil has very old and traditional roots. The exports started very long time ago. It is known
that the majority of rose oil exports between 1920 and 1921 were destined for France and
The value of rose oil exports reached US$ 9 million in 2010 and US$ 10 million in 2011.
The exports were made to 33 countries. The majority of exports were directed to the
European countries, the USA, India, Switzerland, and Canada, which are all major
processors of essential oils.
Rose Oil Exports of Turkey by Years
Turkish Essential Oils Exports, (Value: US$ 1,000)
HS No. Products 2008 2009 2010 2011
330112 Orange oil 30 10 34 0
330113 Lemon oil 11 44 98 97
330119 Other citrus fruit oils 30 15 29 167
330124 Mentha piperita oil 1 0 25 0
330129 Other essential oils 23.087 19.908 15.264 19.721
330130 Resinoids 258 1 24 8
330190 Terpenic by products of
essential oils 1.222 1.175 2.016 2.182
Total 24.639 21.153 17.490 22.175
BeautyEurasia - International Trade Fair for Beauty Products, Cosmetics, Parfumery, Salons and Wellness
The General Secretariat Of Antalya Exporters Association
Products: Export of fresh fruit and vegetables and products, essential oils, textiles
and textile raw materials, cut flowers, greenery, bulbs etc.
TAGS: essential oils market in Turkey, Turkey essential oil industry report