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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, March 30) – Tahiti's "monoï" oil became the first cosmetic product in French Polynesia to receive a "label of origin" on April 1, 1992. As the 15th anniversary arrives on Sunday, five companies now divide the market in Tahiti with a combined yearly sales turnover of more than 400 million French Pacific francs (US$4.6 million/3.4 million euros).

The scented oil that dates back to ancient times is now found in more than 10 million products sold throughout the world, contributing, in a way, to the promotion of Tahiti and Her Islands. Those products include natural liquid moisturizer, body soap, mild shampoo, shower gel, rich moisturizing cream, soothing balm and suntanning products.

The monoï market took only five years to become a big success as the five companies in Tahiti report a combined 10% growth in their business activity in 2006. That growth basically involves sending monoï overseas since 80% of the production is for exporting. The businesses create employment for some 100 persons in Tahiti.

In "reo-maohi", the Polynesian language first spoken in Tahiti, the word "monoï" means scented oil. In ancient times, monoï was mixed with Tiare Tahiti flower petals, or even with some other local flowers that were soaked into unrefined coconut oil for several days. The monoï was preserved by those first Tahitians in various receptacles for a variety of uses.

The Association of Monoï Manufacturers of Tahiti explains: "Throughout centuries, monoï has played an important role in the Polynesian way of life, whether during ancestral rites, in traditional medicine, local pharmacopoeia or in their personal care. Today monoï is still regarded as one of the main pillars of the rich Polynesian culture."

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