By  on June 15, 2007

CANNES, France — Sustainability, naturals and organics were among buzzwords during the World Perfumery Congress here earlier this month.

As the fragrance industry responds to the growing green movement, executives speaking at the event said getting a balance between science and nature will be key going forward.

"The world business community is increasingly focused on sustainability," said Sumit Bhasin, director of global research, development and innovation at P&G Prestige Products. "Trying to operate with an environmentally sustainable approach is adding great complexity to any business decision."

In the future, a mix of natural and chemical ingredients will be essential, according to Bhasin.

"The industry started with naturals, then by the end of the 19th century had created thousands of synthetic components," he said. "A combination of companies [that work] with rose oil, jasmine and sandalwood, and then companies [that work] with novel synthetic ingredients are going to help reinvent this industry."

"[The green] movement is going to stay, we all have a lot to do," said Camille McDonald, executive vice president of brand development and merchandising at Bath & Body Works. "But the information is contradictory. What is unequivocal is that the consumer loves the concept as long as she doesn't have to pay more and as long as she gets the same performance from a product at the same price. So far we have not found the foolproof way to give her both."

McDonald added sustainable resources will also be a hot topic going forward. Indeed, a number of suppliers were already keen to highlight their activities in that domain.

International Flavors & Fragrances, for example, organized a tour of its Laboratoire Monique Rémy, in Grasse, France, which produces natural raw materials like the patchouli used in Cacharel's latest scent Liberté and the mandarin used in Armani Code.

"Over the years we strayed too far from naturals," said Nicolas Mirzayantz, group president of fragrances at IFF.

During the congress, Givaudan announced a recent partnership with Conservation International, a nongovernmental organization, to protect tonka beans in Venezuela. As part of the deal, Givaudan will purchase beans that are farmed in a sustainable manner.

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