You can find this olive oil based soap in almost any hygiene department, but have a closer look at the labels. On the cheaper imitations you’ll see that half of them aren’t even made in Marseille, some made without olive oil.
Why is this happening?
Because there was never any patent of protection laws put in place meaning anyone, anywhere can make soap and call it Savon de Marseille. These knock offs are even carrying the Savon de Marseille stamp.To protect the soap, the four remaining genuine soap manufactures formed a union, L’union in 2011, they then approached the French Ministry asking for three specific criteria to be addressed; the composition, the method of manufacture and the geographic origin. Although they managed to get European official Protected Geographic recognition of origin and quality (PGI) in April 2013, fake soaps are still being made, even in France.
For PGI products the link with the geographic area is not essential.
Save the soap petition
The four soap makers are now asking French consumers to help them save the true Savon de Marseille by signing a petition addressed to the appropriate French Ministry.
Keeping the traditional soap making technique is important for these manufacturers. The real soap is cubic shaped with no preservatives and no perfumes. It is made from olive oil, takes about two weeks to make and about a month before it’s ready to be sold. The final product is stamped by hand with details on all 6 faces indicating the weight, the name of the manufacturer, the percentage of oil and the legendary Savon de Marseille stamp.
Protected Designation of OriginManufactures such as Savon de Marseille need to be protected. After all it is a regional and traditional product, one based on special savoir- faire. Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) the European Union protects food products closely linked to terroir.
Granted Savon de Marseille is not a food product but why can't it apply to Savon de Marseille where there is a specific link between the product and its geographic link?
Genuine Savon de Marseille will be stamped on the sides.