Re: Standards for Indian henna powder (and the dye is: *drum roll*)

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Posted by Maureen on September 17, 2002 at 05:17:57:

In reply to: Re: Standards for Indian henna powder (and the dye is: *drum roll*) posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on September 16, 2002 at 22:43:36:

: Why would it be economically unfeasible for India to get powder out
: the door without scrap, grit and dye when Pakistan, Iran, Morocco,
: Yemen seem to be able to do so?

My thoughts are that it is not economically unfeasible for henna
powder from India to be put out without the dyes, grit etc. As you
have stated, it is just that it is politically feasible to put out
henna that is full of the dyes, grit, sand etc. Henna powder from
India is just much much cheaper than the henna powder I have gotten
from any other place. There is significant difference in the prices
of kilos of Indian henna powder compared to the prices I have had
quoted from anywhere else. And the shipping prices are also lower
though not as significantly. Henna powder from India is being sold
all over the world and I don't think the desire in most of the world
is as much for the purity as it is for the price. Indian henna
powders can and do seem to still be able to underprice the others.
It would be interesting to me to know how much of the Indian henna
powder export market is represented by henna powder coming to the
U.S. If it is significant, then we have an opportunity to impact
change in the purity. If the U.S. market is just a small portion,
then we have far less opportunity to impact change in purity.

I received some samples over the past four months of Indian henna
powder. All dyed. Some to just a ridiculous extent. I replied to
each about not desiring henna powder with dye...some also about the
lack of sifting. I received no response at all back from
some...LOL!!! ONE...ONE...however responded that they would sift the
powder to my expectation and there would be no additives...spelled
dyes. Of course I didn't know then that there is dyed sand in the
henna powder. But, I agreed to an increase in price...25% to get it
in the condition I specified. I am expecting it any day now. It
will be interesting to see how it comes. It will be interesting to
see if stipulating clearly what your standards for acceptance are and
paying the additional cost for the henna powder will actually lead to
a change in the purity. I thought it was worth paying the cost to

I think that if we raise the bar on purity, we may well have to raise
what we are willing to pay. Also, if we are going to raise the bar
on the standard, that we have to let people know where the bar is
now. And that does mean telling them exactly what is in the henna
powder as it now exists that we no longer want in it.

I don't think labor conditions in any
: one of those countries are better or worse than any other. And, the
: henna industry is less hazardous than most. If people have to put
: their children out to work by age 10, at least the henna industry
: isn't killing them by age 16 like several others I can think

That one I don't want to touch at all. It is like the lesser of two
evils. I know realistically, there is nothing that we can do to
impact what necessitates putting children out to work at age 10. But
I wish...I wish there was something. And I know that flipping henna
production on its head will not change all of the conditions at work
that make child labor the norm in many parts of the world. But there
is a part of me that sits with discomfort at the notion our pleasure,
work or whatever puts a child to work. What is the alternative if
that child cannot work in the henna industry? If we were to discover
that a huge part of the henna export market of any country were
dependent upon the U.S. import market, would it take 25%, 50% or 100%
or perhaps 500% increase in the price we pay to make it so child
labor was not necessary.

I have spoken with enough suppliers and importers of henna powder in
countries outside of the U.S. to know that they are paying
waaaaaaaaaaaay less pre kilo of henna powder they are importing
compared to what we are paying in the U.S. And often for the same
henna powder. Henna powder in most countries are just not going to
be able to be sold for the price we can sell it for here. Exporters
know that and charge us more. So while we may be a low percentage of
the world market, I wonder what we represent in terms of percentage
of income?
: I know about what the carton prices are of all the hennaes before
: leave the country .... if one were to demand that "pure" henna
: the docks rather than adulterated henna, and agree to pay double the
: price, you'd be shocked at how little difference it would make in
: henna budget. Last I checked, 90% of what you pay for henna is
: shipping, customs, tarifs, couriers and markups.

Yep!!! That is so true!!! It is amazing the way some henna
shipments have to be routed, just to get to the U.S. because of the
country the shipment originates from. I had a shipment of henna
powder routed from the Middle East all through Africa then back
through Europe then to the UK then here. An indirect and expensive
enterprise. Courier services are getting rich.
: Personally ... I'd like to see whole leaf imported, then ground and
: sifted individually here. The dye "keeps" better in whole leaf
: Where does the notion that Indian henna is the best come from? From
: Indian sellers who tell us that we should judge henna on the
: "greenness" and insist that they have the best. I've checked enough
: henna now, and read enough botany papers to know that's nothing more
: than salesmanship. India currently has the better infrastructure,
: communications and economic, with the US than the Muslim countries.
: And, the language of commerce in India is English. That gives them
: edge on selling to the US. Yes, many Indian hennaes are very good.
: That doesn't excuse adding green dye and other stuff and lying about
: it. Other countries and companies, particularly Atabaki's Iranian
: hennaes, Abid's Jamila, and Morocco's Tazarine are a damn sight
: cleaner and they give stains as good or better.

Indian henna powder costs much less and that is why it is on those
shelves of those little stores. Don't you think we have a lot of
work to do here in the U.S. to get excellent henna powder on the
shelves of drug stores, super markets and such. If Javeed Atabaki's
Kimia, Abid's Jamila (as we know and appreciate it sold on line), and
Morocco's Sahara Tazarine were as widely distributed here in the U.S.
as some of the Indian henna powders...if they were more widely
distributed in stores, they could sell much cheaper as well. That
makes me think that we have work to do here. If those henna powders
were readily accessible and widely distributed here...if we could
create the market...I think that is what could change the purity of
Indian henna powders if they wanted a piece of that market.

Anyway, I can't wait to see what the purity will be of the henna
powder I await. Personally, I hope it is excellent. If 25% increase
makes it excellent...boy oh boy...what would 75% increase do?

I wonder why some of the exporters who frequent the forum to announce
their henna powders don't participate in this sort of discussion?
They certainly have some things to say as they hold huge pieces that
would be useful in such conversations. And right now, I am talking
about Indian henna powders since that is the focus of this
discussion. There may be other reasons why things are done the way
they are that we have not thought of. Their thoughts on what would
be necessary to clean up some of the henna powders would be very
enlightening...I think. Sometimes I have the distinct impression
that some of the people who have offered to export henna powder to me
actually have no more to do with the actual production of the henna
powder than I have. That they just purchase some packages of henna
powder...mark it up some and then export it. I may be wrong. But
sometimes, I think that I may be right.



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