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Agave shortage to hit cosmetics

By Lucy Whitehouse , 12-Mar-2014
Last updated the 20-Mar-2014 at 17:11 GMT

The price of agave, a Mexican plant which provides various active ingredients in cosmetics products from hair oils to anti-aging, is set to rise due to increasing demand outstripping the available supply, according to the Mexican Mezcal Quality Regulation Council.

The cactus, which also provides the raw material for numerous products from the neighboring industries of pharmaceuticals and beverages, has seen a rise in price from less than half a peso ($0.04) per kilo three years ago, to its current four pesos ($0.33) per kilo price tag.

Due to its increasing use across the board, estimates suggest prices could reach eight or nine pesos ($0.75) in the next three years, the council states.

Use in cosmetics

The rising price of Agave will be of concern to personal care developers and manufacturers using the ingredients offered by the cactus.

Agave ingredients are found in an array of cosmetics products; the US’s Ulta beauty superstore chain and French beauty giant Sephora both boast agave-based ranges of hair and skin care products.

Explaining its function for hair care, Sephora states that “agave’s amino sugars lock moisture inside the hair, building strength, resiliency, and elasticity. These plant sugars also help improve manageability while helping retain vibrancy and lengthening color life.”

However France-based developer Silab notes that its active ingredient, Prohyal+, which is derived from yeast found on the leaves of agave, is an example of an agave-related cosmetics material which will not be affected by the shortage. 

"Our active is produced only from yeast found on the agave leaves and not from agave. Our process does not affect the agave raw material and we take always care of our sourcing in an ethical and responsible way. So, our active is not impacted by this shortage," a Silab rep told Cosmetics Design.

Other uses

Cosmetics is not the only market with agave in its focus, with beverages, breads and pastries for diabetics all making use of it.

The plant is also crucial to the Mexico’s distilled liquor market, especially tequila and mezcal, a similar beverage which is quickly rising in prominence.

Extracts from the cactus are also used in the production of pharmaceuticals, where they can offer a self-life enhancing coating.

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