01. August 2017
IHK Vocational Qualification Certificate in just one year
From nothing to a vocational certificate in one year: As part of a unique project in cooperation with the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (German Federal Employment Agency), the IHK (Chambers of Industry and Commerce), and the Wirtschaftsakademie Schleswig-Holstein (Schleswig-Holstein Business Academy), Frey + Lau GmbH has enabled five employees to retroactively obtain a recognized and accredited vocational qualification. The project is made possible by the “external students' examination” process. The German Federal Employment Agency supports this measure by providing financial support for training course fees, travel expenses, teaching materials and wage subsidies within the scope of the “WeGeBau” initiative, a Germany-wide program offered to employees over 45 years of age and those who do not have any usable certified vocational training.
Vocational qualification made easy? Far from it: the employees had to intensively study and prepare for the regular theory portion of the exam as well as the practical examination in just one year, on a part-time basis – a study course which would usually take two to three years at a vocational college. This can only be possible with full support from family and colleagues – and with so much backing, all five employees accomplished their goal and successfully passed the exam with good results. Unskilled employees thus became “Chemical Production Specialists” or “Warehouse Logistics Technicians”.
Frey + Lau is a co-initiator of the project and helped support it financially. CEO Claas Nendel says: "We feel strongly connected to our staff, and as a growing company, we are continuously looking for qualified, skilled employees to join us. It was therefore a logical step for us to enable our unskilled employees to document their expertise and know-how by obtaining a vocational qualification. Acquiring the specialized knowledge also lets employees understand their tasks better, and so the quality of work increases as a result.”
01. August 2017
Sourcing Report: Visit to Mint Growing Regions
Specialized in essential oils of the highest quality level, there is good reason why Frey + Lau is one of the EU’s most renowned companies in the industry. To ensure top quality, our employees regularly visit the growing regions to get an accurate, up-close and personal overview of the supply situation of the raw ingredients. During the visits, fields and crops are inspected, samples are collected, the growth of the plants is assessed, and quality assurance audits are conducted.
Recently, Phillip Behrens traveled to India to check on the 2017 crop of the Mentha Arvensis, M. Piperita and M. Spicata mint species, and to give a first-hand report on what harvest yields can be expected.
Welcome news: For Mentha Arvensis, we expect a harvest yield in the Uttar Pradesh province similar to the one in 2016, i.e. 30,000-32,000 MT of crude mint oil. Although synthetic menthol has become an increasingly important commodity in recent years, it cannot cover the growing demand alone, so that the position of natural menthol on the world market is stable.
In the case of Mentha Piperita, all expectations point to a significant decline in production volume: The improvement of Piperita plants is stagnating, and at the same time, other plants are more attractive to farmers. While there were still 500 MT in 2016, the yield will fall well below the 400 MT mark this year. In the Uttar Pradesh and Punjab provinces, we estimate 175 to max. 200 MT. This is currently leading to extreme price increases, and we do not expect the situation to ease before the 2018 harvest! For the new crop year, the hope is that the current price hike will serve as an incentive to plant and cultivate a higher volume next year.
Unfortunately, the expected yield for Mentha Spicata is almost nonexistent: The cultivation trend in India is continuing to decline for this mint species.
In addition, new Goods & Services Tax (GST) laws in India are impeding payment transactions within the supply chain for mint products, which is also triggering price increases for them. Reimbursement of the GST will be considerably delayed, and the manufacturers will thus calculate higher sales prices for exports as well.
Even though Mr. Behrens brought back some figures that were not completely pleasing, at Frey + Lau, close contact with the producers is the foundation for a good and long-lasting cooperation. This approach lets us ensure that the raw ingredients meet our high quality standards.