How Kneipp purchases raw materials

Actions and transactions

High-quality products require high-quality raw materials. To meet our own requirements, we have defined strict procurement guidelines. These include clear rules on the subject of sustainability. First during supplier qualification and later in their discussions with the vendors, Kneipp’s purchasers generally negotiate sustainability aspects as well. For the respective ingredients, e.g. sustainability reports and / or sustainability concepts are demanded.

As regional as possible, as international as necessary

Wherever possible, we prefer native plants. Many of the raw materials used for Kneipp products are therefore procured from Germany or other European countries. Here the quality of the raw materials must always meet our requirements.

However, not all required vegetable raw materials are available in sufficient quality or even at all from European farming. Due to natural conditions, some plants, such as the shea tree, will not grow on our continent.

Setting priorities

For compensation, we procure other raw materials from local or German cultivation even if they could be obtained from the world market at the same quality and a lower price. This is, for example, often the case with St. John’s wort – a classic medicinal plant already used by Sebastian Kneipp himself and today still to be found in many Kneipp products.

Examples of sustainable raw material sourcing

  • Shea butter from Fair Trade

    Shea butter from Fair Trade

    The nuts of the shea tree, from whose kernels the cosmetics raw material shea butter is produced, mostly come from Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries.

    Kneipp is aware of the fact that trade in shea nuts is an important source of livelihood for many West African families, and therefore it procures its shea butter from Fair Trade.

    In the native areas of the shea nut, the West African savannah, people have been using shea butter as edible fat and for skin care products since times immemorial. Mothers massage and care for their children from birth with this natural product. In addition, people use its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties for treating itching, scars and burns.

    In Europe, too, shea butter is valued for its precious care properties and is a common ingredient in skin care products – for example, in the Kneipp face creams of the series Almond Flowers Soft Skin and Regeneration by the Powers of Nature.

    As in the use of raw materials Kneipp GmbH pays special attention, in addition to excellence of quality, to sustainable production, it gets its shea butter from the company AAK. This has initiated, in cooperation with the UNDP (United Nations Development Plan), a Fair Trade project in Burkina Faso that specifically supports local women. Why specifically women? Well, traditionally harvesting of shea nuts and production of the rich shea butter are their task.

    The Fair Trade project focuses on provision of motorised work equipment and generators. These relieve the women in their daily work in the household, for example in the milling of maize and shea nuts – a job that would be very time-consuming and exhausting without mechanical support.

    The facilitation of their daily workload leaves women more time for the shea harvest and consequently a higher income, which allows them a better standard of living. The families use the greater financial resources for their children’s education, medical care, or to secure their future by investment into occupational autonomy.

    Even after their participation in this UN project, AAK continues helping the women to help themselves: In training courses, they learn to increase the quality of their harvest. They also receive bonuses for top quality of the raw materials.

  • Arnica montana L.

    Arnica montana L.

    Sebastian Kneipp’s “favorite” herb was arnica. “Bergwohlverleih”, as the medicinal herb is also called in German, is effective, when applied externally, against bruises, haematomata, contusions, sprains, sore muscles and venous disorders.

    Even today, arnica is still one of the most important vegetable raw materials for Kneipp and is used in herbal medicines such as Arnica Ointment S as well as in cosmetics and health baths.

    Kneipp GmbH deliberately uses a special variety for arnica-containing products: Arnica montana L., known as Spanish arnica. It convinces by particular low allergenic potential.

    In order to protect the stock of wild Arnica montana L., until 2014 Kneipp supported a complex breeding and cultivation project for the cultivation of Spanish arnica in Germany. As early as 1996, in cooperation with Philipp Berner, an expert in plant breeding, Kneipp had begun growing and breeding Spanish arnica plants from the wild.

    The result of years of work: a proprietary cultivar named Arvita. The Federal Office for Plant Varieties granted Kneipp GmbH the rights to this cultivar in December 2011.

    In subsequent years, however, it was found that nature cannot be planned. Frost damage, drought and other environmental factors harmed the plant population to the degree that quantitatively sufficient and economically viable supply of arnica flowers from German cultivation was no longer possible.

    Despite the high cost and this great setback, Kneipp keeps at it: Since 2015, attempts are being made to establish a controlled wild collection in northern Spain, and based on this, enable reliable and economical cultivation of the Spanish variety of arnica. A project for which a lot of patience will be needed again. However, we are tenacious – after all, the Kneipp brand has been around for some 125 years.

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