A source of oil in Morocco: The special quality of argan oil

Cold-pressed argan oil from Morocco is one of the highest-quality oils in the food and health industry in Germany. In order to be able to better evaluate the quality of argan oils, the environmental factors and impacts of raw material processing on high quality were examined.


Argan trees can survive the most extreme dry conditions and high temperatures © Oliver Dilly

Since oils are increasingly sold internationally, quality requirements have increased significantly. In addition to determining the essential ingredients, the German-Moroccan project, which is due to completed at the end of March 2016, is investigating the fleeting compounds responsible for the typical smell of argan oil.

The raw materials and processing can bring about defects. In this, the focus is primarily on sensory defects which are perceived as a bitter or cheesy smell. Fresh argan oil should have nutty and roasted attributes.

Investigations found 25 aroma-relevant compounds in argan oil from unroasted seed. In order to improve quality assurance, it was important to find out which steps in the production process are responsible for a potential deterioration of oil quality. The investigations showed that the current cleaning process does not have a significant influence on oil quality.

Argan oil as an economic factor

Argan oil might be a niche product in the area cooking oil, but at the same time it is offered as an expensive speciality oil. Costing up to 150 Euros/litre, its price is significantly above the average of other cooking oils on the market. The production of argan oil constitutes an important cross-regional economic factor particularly for small to medium-sized enterprises and for women in Morocco, primarily among the group of the Berbers.

Added value of the German-Moroccan cooperation

Argan trees only grow in a specific region in the South-Western part of Morocco. The oil from this tree is unique and a precious and increasingly important component in the German and Moroccan food and health sector.

A cooperation between German and Moroccan research institutions is essential for investigations dealing with the influence of process parameters on oil quality. This is the only way to have access to high-quality directly from the process chain which, when investigated, allows for conclusions to be drawn regarding the influence on oil quality.


Dr Bertrand Matthäus
Max Rubner Institute Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food
Institute for Safety and Quality in Cereals, Detmold
Tel: +49 5231 741-303