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10 June

Bulgarian attar of roses aspires for protected name

If there is a crop in Bulgaria to have benefited from the cool spring and the heavy rains, it is without doubt the attar-yielding rose. Rose picking is underway in ideal conditions. Rose plantations in different parts of the Valley of Roses, Southern Bulgaria, did not blossom at the same time. This has spared rose pickers the peak of blossoming across rose fields that has on many occasions caused a major concentration of working hand within just 2 to 3 days. The rose picking campaign is longer this year and will complete by mid-June. Low temperatures have worked to preserve in rose petals a richness of scents that would have evaporated in warmer weather. “The crops are plentiful in quantity and are of remarkable quality”, one of the big owners of rose fields Dimitar Stefanov told Radio Bulgaria. For the same reason the price of rose petals has recently set s record for the past several decades. 

In fact, the entire perfumery industry worldwide is sure to benefit from the abundant crops of the attar-yielding rose in Bulgaria, as without attar of roses it cannot keep going. Bulgaria is the world’s second biggest exporter of attar of roses after Turkey. In this sense Bulgaria has another major advantage – the Bulgarian Valley of Roses is the source of the attar with the richest scent. This country produces from 1.5 to 2 tons of this sophisticated product annually. 

“Research has found that the Bulgarian attar of roses contains more than 265 aromatic components making it one the richest product of its kind worldwide”, Dimitar Stefanov says. “And, mind you, without rose oil, no genuine perfume can be made.” 
Apart from yoghurt, the rose oil has been one of the symbols of Bulgaria. This is one of the reasons why the produces of this elite product from the region of the Valley of Roses have applied for its listing in the European Union register of protected names with the name Bulgarian Attar of Roses. The procedure that takes several years, is still at an early stage. Bulgaria is the only EU producer of attar of rose that is also the best in the world. Looked in a wider context, the attar of roses is fit to emerge as one of the high-profile symbols of the EU. 
The countries that produce attar of roses are few. Apart from Bulgaria these include Turkey, Morocco, Iran and India. Bulgaria is credited for the introduction of the attar-yielding rose to Afghanistan, as an economic alternative to the opium poppy. The attar of roses is a product boasting very good returns – 1 kg of the aromatic product is worth from 4000 to 6000 euros depending on the quality and the market setup. There have been attempts recently to expand the geography of the attar-yielding rose, including some high altitude fields in Africa. “Well, the quality of the attar from new fields is far from the Bulgarian attar of roses, and we have no direct competition whatsoever”, Dimitar Stefanov says. Looking at the growing interest in the rare crop, Dimitar Stefanov points to the urgent need to gain a protected name for the Bulgarian rose oil. Another chance for this is the product’s expanding use: 
“There have been a few attempts recently for the diversification in the use of rose oil outside perfumery and cosmetics. Rose extracts have now become part of some pharma products, especially in Germany and USA. In Japan the rose scent has become a hit in the culinary art. Candies and chewing gums with rose oil have become popular too, not to mention the Arab world where the cult for the rose scent has long traditions”, Dimitar Stefanov concludes. 

Bulgarian National Radio


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