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Treasure Hunt

These organic apricot kernels come from Turkey. The supplier grows them in organic quality. Photo: Naturamus GmbH

As every good chef knows, you can’t make a top-class meal with poor ingredients. The same principle applies when producing medicines and natural cosmetics. Accordingly, raw material purchasing has always played a key role at WALA. The company uses ingredients from plant, mineral and animal sources – in other words, predominantly renewable substances. Wherever possible, these are grown biodynamically or organically. At times, trying to procure these raw materials is like embarking on a treasure hunt.

Raw materials from all over the world

No one knows this better than Ralf Kunert, managing director at wholly-owned WALA subsidiary Naturamus GmbH. Together with a 20-strong team, he seeks out the cream of raw materials all over the world – over 1,000 different types in all. The company has existed since 2014, when WALA hived off the procurement of raw and source materials for Dr. Hauschka Skin Care and WALA Medicines into an independent subsidiary.

As Ralf Kunert explains: “Our high quality standards mean that we often have to take action ourselves. In many cases, the materials we need are not available on the market at all. Because of this, we initiate biodynamic farming projects and cooperations all over the world.” The definition of quality is different for each individual raw material. First of all, the chemical and physical composition is of importance: does the raw material come from the right plant? This can be verified in our laboratories. At a sensory level, things get a little more difficult. Ralf Kunert: “For example, some types of sunflower oil feel rather scratchy on the skin. In these cases, people are the best instrument for measuring – our senses are far finer than any technology.”

Helping to heal the earth

The most stimulating part of Naturamus’ work is forging ties with entirely new partners. This calls for much perseverance and, in some cases, takes years to bear fruit. Ralf Kunert: “We often need a lot of staying power, but this is important in order to be able to work sustainably.” He can afford to be patient, given that WALA does not produce seasonal articles at short notice but rather has for decades manufactured a stable range of products that gives a certain security in planning the purchase of raw materials.

In addition to everyday business, Naturamus – like WALA – has a vision. This, as Ralf Kunert puts it, involves “promoting Demeter standards worldwide, establishing a healthy balance between plants and soil, thus helping to heal the Earth”.

This article was first published in viaWALA September 2015.

Ralf Kunert, managing director of Naturamus GmbH, in front of a reproduction of a blackboard drawing by Rudolf Steiner. Photo: Naturamus GmbH

These shiny brown balls are organic macadamia nuts from Kenya. These are among the most expensive nuts in the world, hence the name “king of the nuts”. Photo: Naturamus GmbH

These moringa pods house nut-like seeds that contain valuable oil. A Naturamus employee brought them from India for possible future projects. Photo: Naturamus GmbH

Dried rose blossoms come from Iran. An oil extract is created from these blossoms, combining them with olive, almond and jojoba oil. Photo: Naturamus GmbH

Fresh rose blossoms are processed directly into valuable essential rose oil in the source countries themselves. Photo: Naturamus GmbH

Organic mango seeds from India contain mango butter, which is important for cosmetics production. Photo: Naturamus GmbH

Naturamus employee Christine Ellinger (left) with Indian workers who dry and select the mango seeds. Photo: Naturamus GmbH