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Scent Users Want Sustainable Options

Fragrance suppliers are ramping up investment in sustaining the environment to meet consumer demand and drive business growth.

MILAN — The spectrum for sustainable fine fragrances is widening its net. Fragrance suppliers are ramping up investment in sustaining the environment to meet consumer demand and drive business growth.

“There’s definitely a keen interest from the younger generation — and today’s consumer has a heightened awareness about what they are buying. Products with social impact and a reduced environmental impact will perform in the marketplace,” said David Shipman, group vice president of Firmenich. Michel Mane, president of fragrance supplier Mane America, cited a demand for authenticity, transparency, and business ethics as fuelling the green agenda, along with “the megatrend of health and well-being.” Symrise said consumers want to consume better, not more. According to its company analysis, 78 percent of consumers look at how products affect their health and 66 percent are buying organic on a monthly basis.

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“It’s more and more about a combination of different activities,” said Mickael Blais, head of Givaudan’s sustainability platform, stressing although the concept isn’t new it’s now taken more seriously. So much so, Blais said, that a supplier’s sustainability practices are criteria for establishing partnerships with a fragrance developer. The Swiss firm launched two ethical sourcing programs in March guaranteeing a sustainable supply of ylang ylang from Moheli, and vanilla from Madagascar. Firmenich manages sustainable agricultural projects in seven countries and plans to add at least one additional project annually. In September it kicked off a new initiative to help Haitians through vetiver farming, and producing value-added essential oils with the Clinton Global Initiative. IFF-LMR works with a blackcurrant bud cooperative in Nuits Saint George, iris farmers in Tuscany and in Togo, Africa, for the supply of some naturals.

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Suppliers said the availability of raw materials, new markets and heightened consumer awareness means they are aligning their scent supply chains to meet holistic concerns. Mane said given the broad nature of sustainability, it’s integrating multilateral principles on a step-by-step basis such as its Aquafine technology, which aims to lower the carbon footprint of fragrances, engaging with partners that implement advanced organic agricultural technologies and working with various public private partnerships in South America and African countries to source ingredients. “We need to be pragmatic as we’re running a business and still, hopefully, to make a profit,” said Mane.

Firmenich chief executive officer Patrick Firmenich said, “Today, sustainability is broader than a ‘green strategy.’ It’s a game changer. Firmenich did not develop a separate sustainability strategy for 2015 — but a 2015 corporate strategy that fully integrates sustainability.” Shipman cited examples including its Princeton, N.J., location that began harnessing solar energy last year and the construction of a research center in Shanghai dedicated to plant biology.

Suppliers were in agreement that pure-play natural scents do not provide a complete solution. Ahmet Baydar, senior vice president of global research and development at IFF, said it also could be sustainable to not use naturals. “It’s not always about costs but availability and sustainability factors; to make sure you have regular supplies rather than destroying sources of nature.” According to Baydar, the creation of synthetic musks is a big part of IFF’s research portfolio. “Natural musk only comes from animals, so it’s synthetic musk or no musk.” At Givaudan compact fragrance or concentrated qualities to reduce volumes while maintaining an odor’s impact are being researched.