The Quest for Organic Lanolin
Managing Director Ralf Kunert of Naturamus explains what can be achieved when creating partnerships across industries.
One of the by-products of scouring (washing) wool is wool grease, which is refined into lanolin. Lanolin is an important raw material for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry as it forms the basis for lipsticks and creams.
Naturamus specializes in sourcing natural organic raw materials such as lanolin. Naturamus is part of WALA, a German-based company in the natural cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry founded in 1935.
In 2016, Naturamus and Fuhrmann partnered to create an innovative product that had never existed before: Organic Lanolin. Both partners brought different expertise to the table. Naturamus offered insights from the consumer market and the requirements of the cosmetic industry and Fuhrmann had the organic on-farm and processing expertise.
We talked to Naturamus Managing Director Ralf Kunert about his mission of sourcing organic raw materials and the partnership with Fuhrmann.
Going above the highest standards
The partnership and direct dialogue between Fuhrmann and Naturamus enabled the Fuhrmann team to identify exactly what could be done in order to meet the high requirements of the organic cosmetic industry from the farm stage. While the Fuhrmann farms as well as the mill, both meet all the GOTS organic standard requirements for primary production and wool processing, the small concentrated amounts of chemicals still contained in the wool grease were above the accepted level for an organic lanolin product destined for skincare products. The challenge for the Fuhrmann team was, therefore, to identify which processes within the wool production could be changed in such a way that animal welfare and quality standards could still be met while also reducing allowed chemical traces in the organic lanolin product.
On-farm, the identified solution lay in doing the routine health checks at a different point in time of the year or even avoiding the use of certain drugs approved by the organic standard of primary production. This change in animal welfare management ensures that chemical traces vanish from the lanolin when the wool is shorn and the sheep can stay healthy as always.
In the mill, improvements were made in the way wool lots were separated into different lots for processing to ensure the organic lanolin stays pure.
Once the lanolin leaves the Fuhrmann mill, it is sent to a refining mill Inquimec in Buenos Aires for filtering and purifying. Based on the collaboration, Inquimec refining mill also achieved the certification of organic status in its process. It is as far as we know, the only company in the world that has certified this organic process.
From Argentina, the lanolin is shipped to Naturamus in Germany where it gets filtered one additional time. The final result is a 100% organic lanolin product ready to create the most natural cosmetic products the world has to offer.