NEW SPACE FOR IFF
Byline: Matthew W. Evans
NEW YORK — Call it the next wave for International Flavors & Fragrances.
The scent supply giant broke ground last week on construction of a $1 million greenhouse. It will be dedicated solely to hydroponic growing — where pebbles are used to support a plant as a nutrient solution is carried to its roots — at IFF’s primary research-and-development facilities in Union Beach, N.J.
The company hopes that the new space, expected to be up and running by the fall, will lead to the discovery of totally new fragrance molecules and scent compositions.
What began in 1999 with the flight of a particular miniature rose into space to study how microgravity would affect the plant’s fragrance — because of contamination concerns, soil could not be taken up — has evolved into a new chapter of fragrance production at IFF. Braja Mookherjee, vice president and global director of natural products research for IFF, calls the end result “hydro aroma.” The soil of plants grown conventionally contains bacteria and chemicals, which affect scent, according to Mookherjee. But hydroponic growing, he said, produces fragrances that are “aesthetically better — fresher, purer and cleaner.”
The construction will add 1,300 square feet of greenhouse space on top of an existing 2,600 square feet. Less than 1 percent of the current total of 2,000 plants are hydroponically grown, but Mookherjee expects to house at least 200 plants in the new space.