SOFIA (SeeNews) – Rose oil output in Bulgaria is expected to rise in 2005 on the back of higher acreages planted, an official of the Bulgarian National Association of Essential Oils, Perfumery and Cosmetics (BNAEOPC) said yesterday. «We can definitely expect that rose oil production this year will exceed the 2004 figure of about 1,000 kilograms,» Katya Kichukova, BNAEOPC branch manager for essential oils, told SeeNews by telephone from Plovdiv. Bulgaria, along with Morocco and Turkey, is the major supplier of rose oil worldwide. Kichukova said that Bulgaria’s 2005 output is expected to be some 1,200 kilograms, but underlined that complete data for this year’s production would be available in March 2006 at the earliest. «It is very difficult to collect data for precise statistics, although the harvest is usually completed by the summer, because most companies are hard on disclosing output data and usually trade their rose oil alone,» Kichukova added. Bulgaria’s rose gardens have an estimated planted area of about 3,000 hectares, of which 2,500 hectares are harvested. «Producers are actively planting. Only 1,400 hectares of the total are roses older than eight years and new rose bushes are being planted even this autumn,» said Kichukova. Currently around 30 companies are involved in rose oil production in the ex-communist country of 7.8 million. «Only few large companies have closed cycles of production, from planting to exports of finished production, Bulatars, Rozabul, Enyo Belchev, Balgarska Roza – Karlovo and Balgarska Roza – Plovdiv,» said Kichukova. French Biolandes and a US-owned domestic firm are the only two foreign companies operating in the sector, she added. Bulgarian rose oil producers export the whole output, as the substance is too expensive for domestic perfumery producers, said Kichukova. A kilogram of rose oil is sold for about 4,000 euros, but it takes an average of 3,000 kilograms of rose bloom to make a kilogram of oil, she added. Old rose plantations give between 2,500 to 3,000 kilograms per hectare, while new plantations could produce over 10,000 kilograms per hectare.