Biodiesel company makes the leap into cosmetics, Part I

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It is not every day that a biodiesel company branches out into the cosmetic ingredients market, but that is exactly what Hawaii-based Pacific Biodiesel has done.

Its management recently chose to diversify the company, which was first established in 1995, by broadening its focus on renewable biodiesel into the beauty market with the launch of a macadamia oil line that targets the skin and hair care oils category. 

The business began on the island of Maui, when founder Robert King realised the potential to divert used cooking oil from landfill and turn it into a renewable fuel, helping to turn around a potentially hazardous environmental waste material into a renewable fuel.

Victim of its own success?

The success of that business idea has led to the development of a company with a multi million dollar turnover and a staff of over 80 people.

But as Pacific Biodiesel marketing director Joy Galatro explained to Cosmetics Design, the success of the business meant that supplies of used cooking oil began to run low, prompting a search for new opportunities.

“As the demand for sustainable biodiesel began to exceed the amount of waste cooking oils produced in the Hawaiian Islands, we looked to agricultural products to supplement the existing feedstock,” said Galatro.

“Our crushing mill next door to our biodiesel refinery allows for the extraction of oil from many different beans, n

uts and seeds.”

Where to take the business next?

A feasibility research project was conducted in conjunction with the US military to determine which crops in Hawaii would be best matched, and it was discovered that there was a problem with what to do with surpluses from macadamia nut processing.

“After learning that these excess macadamia nuts were being discarded, we offered to buy these unused nuts and process them into biodiesel. As our team learned more about this oil, we realized its many healthful benefits for hair and skin. And that’s when Maiden Hawaii Naturals was born,” said Galatro.

Since establishing the new division, the company says its mission is now to become the leading truly natural premium brand of beauty oil products from Hawaii, and the company is clearly mapping out a distinct niche for itself within the beauty market.

Macadamia nut oil is currently available from Australia, Kenya and Spain. But we are the only large scale producer of cosmetic-grade macadamia nut oil using nuts grown in Hawaii,” Galatro said.

How does the processing work?

So how does the process of turning the surplus nuts into beauty oils actually work?

Galatro explains that there are over 500 local farmers of Macadamia nuts on the Big Island. The company sources the nut surpluses from many of these farmers, then uses optical scanners to establish which of the materials are optimal for processing in pure macadamia nut oil.

“Unlike conventional cosmetic and food-grade oil processing, our production is an all-natural, physical process that maintains the natural properties of the ingredient with no additives. Our oil is extracted from 100% Hawaiian macadamia nuts through a chemical-free, low-temperature expeller press process, allowed to settle then filtered,” Galatro said.

In the second part of this article Cosmetics Design will dig deeper into the skin benefits of macadamia oil, look more closely at what type of products it is best suited to and also consider how this kind of business will evolve in the future. 

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