“It’s the duty of the fragrance industry to protect its raw
materials,” says Hervé Fretay, marketing director for specialty
ingredients at Givaudan. “If the producers of vetiver, patchouli
or iris switch to growing wheat or coffee, nobody else would care,
but it would have a devastating impact on the fragrance industry.”
Even more significant is the impact on the producing regions
in the long run, in terms of both economic and social indicators. Many communities, in particular the most economically
vulnerable ones, depend considerably on the cash income generated by the sale of wild cropped botanicals like benzoin resin
in Laos, olibanum gum in Somaliland or immortelle flowers in
Montenegro. Reggio Calabria, historically one of the poorest
regions in Italy, has improved its economic situation over the
past decade thanks to bergamot production; it derives 30% of
its income from citrus oil production, and supplies 90% of the
bergamot oil used in fragrance and flavor formulations.
Loss of Specialized Knowledge
The diminishing production of raw materials also leads to the
loss of traditional know-how and skills, another important factor
with wide-reaching consequences. The collection of benzoin is
not a complicated process—the incision is made in the bark of
the trees from April to July, and the benzoin gum is harvested
during the winter months. However, knowing which trees to
tap and how to shift the cultivation cycle makes a difference in
yield and quality.
Other botanicals require much more intricate farming methods, or a more nuanced experience in evaluating characteristics
like the hue of ylang-ylang petals or the feel of perfectly cured
vanilla beans. As the younger people leave for the cities, the
knowledge of traditional practices dies with the older generation.
The current debate on agriculture pits issues like sustainability against genetic modification, the higher prevalence of
plant diseases against the negative consequences of pesticide
use, and other pressing challenges. The latest recommendations
of the United Nations Environment Program ( www.unep.org)
emphasize intercropping and diversity, shifting away from the
monoculture focus of the 1970s.
In this light, perfumery materials have the hallmark features
of sustainable agricultural products. They are a valuable crop,
The fragrance industry supports social, scientific
and market innovations throughout Europe and
the globe via direct investments in sustainable
jobs—this was the message the International
Fragrance Association (IFRA), sponsored by MEP
Marielle Gallo of France, delivered recently to
the E.U. Parliament.
IFRA’s exhibit, “Innovation in Every Sense,”
highlighted the essential oils of Calabria, Italy,
displayed by the Capua family, which supplies
bergamot oil. The ingredient’s complex citrus
notes, IFRA explains, are found in about 1/3 of all
masculine fine fragrances and 1/2 of all feminine
fine fragrances. Capua Srl cooperates with the
local community on education and distribution
projects with a focus on mutual benefit.
The exhibit also showed the fragrance
industry’s fine chemistry expertise in recreating
the olfactory facets of rare and expensive
naturals such as ambergris. The material,
expelled digestive juices and mucus of sperm
whales, can fetch €150,000 at auction.
Finally, “Innovation in Every Sense” evoked
the setting of the Paris Metro at rush hour to
highlight the well-being and hygienic effects of
fragrance in consumers’ everyday lives. These
innovations, developed between fragrance
houses and brand owners, leverage technologies
such as encapsulation systems and specifically
designed, emotionally targeted scents.
The event provided visitors with tangible
insights into the innovations driving growth in
the industrial and creative sectors throughout
Europe and beyond.
Community, a perfume created by Christophe Laudamiel for IFRA’s exhibit
and presented alongside its complete formula.
IFRA Highlights “Innovation in Every Sense”
IFRA exhibit at the E.U. Parliament.