From plants to extracts
Long before being a concentrate filled with benefits that fits in the palm of your hand, every René Furterer product is born from a plant. Much more than a raw material, the plant is an inspiration, a collection of ingenuities which, provided they are preserved, are just waiting to be explored.
Botany, the first draft of a Furterer product
Knowledge of plants also entails several complementary areas of expertise. Before even imagining a use or a formulation, botanists work to identify existing natural resources and their potential or proven properties.
For a botanist, knowledge comes from the ability to identify species. To do this, René Furterer and Pierre Fabre have the largest private collection of plant samples in the world: more than 15,600 with more than 1,200 species preserved, including more than 300 threatened species, in two conservatories. These exceptional reserves are dedicated as much to research as to the conservation and safeguarding of endangered species.
Phytochemical expertise is devoted to tirelessly analyzing the molecules of species and their modes of action. As plants never finish revealing their secrets, it is essential to constantly cultivate a fresh perspective. After all, innovation is about making something new from something known.
Innovation can also comes from access to a resource, or even the discovery of a plant that has not yet been catalogued. All this is done within a very strict regulatory framework, that of the Nagoya Protocol, which safeguards the protection of biodiversity and the preservation of both known and yet-to-be-discovered natural resources.
Plants are never finished revealing their secrets.
Agriculture and processing: from the plant to its extract
When the interest of a plant and the need for hair care meet, the story begins. The process changes scale to allow the production of an extract at an industrial level with the strictest respect for the plant and the sustainable development criteria under which René Furterer operates.
The immutable principle of agricultural production remains that of the sustainability of the resource. Endangering the natural cycles of the ecosystems or taking anything from them in the long term is completely out of the question. For this reason, René Furterer prefers growing plants on its own land: a 200-hectare organically farmed area where we keep our environmental footprint under control as much as possible. When this is not possible, we enter into partnerships with specifications that are as stringent as those we impose on ourselves. 97% of our suppliers are audited on a regular basis and the traceability of our supplies is guaranteed at all stages. At the same time, we carry out preservation and replanting actions locally, such as in Madagascar with the distribution of Moringa plants to the farmers of Ranopiso. For Shea, Moringa, Pfaffia and Argan production, we have also developed ethical supply chains in the countries of origin of these crops.
Once the plant has been harvested, the molecules required to manufacture the active ingredient must be extracted. All this takes place at our French sites. First in the laboratory, where the specifications expected of our final product are established, as well as its effectiveness and safety criteria. The plant is dissected, its molecules laid bare; nothing escapes us.
Once this stage has been completed and the recipe developed, production moves on to our Gaillac site to reach industrial scale. Extraction methods depend on the requirements of the finished product and the expected formulation, but today our processes involve organic solvents that have been proven to be completely safe and have a limited environmental impact. Extensive analyses are carried out at all stages to ensure the stability of the extract and its compliance with the expected specifications and regulations. Dosages, the presence of heavy metals, pathogens, allergens, toxicity—everything is screened before the approval that then leads to industrial production.
If the path from the plant to its extract seems fairly linear, that’s because you can't see the forest for the trees! There are as many ways of approaching a new project as there are projects; the important thing is to keep an open mind, a passion for broadening your knowledge, and a skillful blend of humility towards nature and inspiration from its observation.
Next step: from formulation to product!
Innovation is also about making something new from something known.