Beverages lead way as Firmenich reports double-digit growth in flavour sales

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Renewable energy, Peak oil

Flavour and fragrance manufacturer Firmenich has announced a 12.1 per cent sales increase for 2010 after recording double-digit growth in both flavours and perfumery

Geneva-based Firmenich creates flavours and fragrances for the world’s most desirable brands, and announced the news in its 2010 annual report.

Sales increased to CHF 2,873m in the year ending June 30, said the report, with​a “particularly strong rebound”​ in fine fragrance during the second half of 2010, while Firmenich’s flavour ingredients and perfume business “followed the trend”.

“Flavour sales posted double-digit local currency growth, with significant increases across all segments,”​ with beverages leading the way followed by savoury foods such as soups and sauces and sweet products.

“Key tonalities like citrus and vanilla drove our sales in beverages, savoury foods and sweet goods, as consumers continued the ‘back to basics’ philosophy adopted during the ​[economic] crisis,” ​said Firmenich.

Market penetration involved the opening of a new flavour and perfume development centre in Brazil and two new production sites: a new flavour encapsulation site in the US and a new perfume plant in Gurjat Provinvce, India.

An accompanying 2010 sustainability report mentions that a new plant biology facility, attached to an existing Shanghai research centre, will be completed “towards the end of 2011”.

According to the report: “The key objectives of this centre are to study key raw materials for the flavour and fragrance industry, using both traditional agronomical and modern biotechnology approaches.”

Green chemistry

The ‘biotechnological’ approach fits with the Firmenich’s continuing drive – outlined in the sustainability report – towards flavour and fragrance R&D that cuts environmental impact.

‘White biotechnology’ stems from an investment programme begun by the firm 1987, which led to its ‘green notes’ ingredients range in 1993, where all raw materials were derived from nature and compost was the only waste product.

It works by using enzymatic or fermentation processes to make ingredients, as an alternative to chemical syntheses.

Firmenich says “white biotechnology processes have improved considerably in recent years” ​and reduced waste, water and energy use reduction for processes whereby it converts vegetable oil into green notes.

Another ongoing sustainable solution involves green or ‘catalytic’ chemistry, whereby Firmenich obtains some ‘target molecules”​ via a single- rather than multi-step laboratory process; thus it can produce Furaneol “our largest-selling flavour ingredient” ​using 20 per cent less energy and 20 per cent less waste.


The report also details Firmenich’s more general progress on targets relating to water management, hazardous waste and green energy production.

Against a 2005 baseline, the firm achieved a 24 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions a 29 per cent cut in volatile organic compound waste, 23 per cent less water usage and produced 45 per cent hazardous waste.

Recent energy saving builds include solar installations in Switzerland, South Africa and Brazil, with Firmenich committed to investing CHF 25 million by 2015 on renewable energy production.

In June 2010 it completed a photovoltaic energy system at its Princeton New Jersey (NJ) site that provides 12% of plant electricity, and expects to complete a wind/solar installation at Newark, NJ, during 2011.

Meanwhile, a seafood flavour site in Alesund, Norway, “has recently installed” ​equipment to turn organic production waste into compost material​using aerobic digestion, thus reducing CO2 emissions via reduced site removal costs.

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