The Legacy of an Iconic Fragrance & Flavor HouseCreating Emotions through the Sense of Taste and Smell: Firmenich

The Legacy of an Iconic Fragrance & Flavor HouseCreating Emotions through the Sense of Taste and Smell: Firmenich

Fragrance and flavors aren’t just elements. They are the souls of our memories– the scent of raindrops falling on earth, or when a warm breeze brings the smell of your mother’s cologne or the sweet, heady fragrance of mangoes; from Grandmother’s special dish to your latest perfume, flavors and fragrance lives in the heart of the Food and Beverage and FMCG Industries, infusing a sensorial connection between the products and consumers.The young demographic profile of India complemented by rising disposable income and aspirational life styles has fueled the growth story of this business in India.The Indian Flavors and Fragrances market is rapidly accelerating,predicted to grow at a rate of 8 to 10 percent by 2020. Firmenich, known for delighting billions of consumers every day through its exceptional taste and smell experiences inside the world’s most desirable brands, has successfully established itself at the heart of the Indian Flavor and Fragrance Industry.

For Firmenich Sustainable Business is Smart Business

Since its creation in 1895, Firmenich creates positive emotions through the senses of taste and smell. Being a family owned company, the Swiss Group always take a long-term view of its business to be aforce for good, for its colleagues, for its customers and for society. That’s why it is recognized as a leader in sustainabilityin its industry and puts its science to work to address key societal challenges, such as sanitation and nutrition, while offering a workplace where all its colleagues can thrive. Building on this legacy, this year, it announced its commitment to become a 100% certified gender equality employer by the end of 2018, in a context where the industry average pay gap is 20%. For Firmenich this is simply the right thing to do, because people are the heart of its success.

More than a Business, aFamily with a Legacy

A name associated with excellence, innovation and responsible business, Firmenich was created back in 1895 in Geneva, Switzerland, by Philippe Chuit, a talented Swiss chemist along with Martin Naef, a shrewd businessman. Their rented premises from a certain Charles Firmenich became the workshop where the founders created groundbreaking molecules such as Dianthine® and Iralia® (still present on the market today) and attracted their first customer, Francois Coty. Therèse Firmenich, the daughter of Charles Firmenich married Philippe Chuit. Her older brother, Frederic, soon joined the company as the salesman of Chuit, Naef& Co. After Chuit and Naef bid farewell to the business, the Firmenich family spearheaded the legacy as the major partner and in 1934 the company became Firmenich&Co. Since then, Firmenich has remained independent, building on that original entrepreneurial vigor and pioneering spirit.

 A Leader in Taste andSmell

Through the fragrance and taste experiences, Firmenich created for its customers, the pioneer touches over 4 billion consumers many times a day, across more than 100 markets, from your cereal or coffee in the morning, all the way to your shampoo, shower gel or Fine Fragrance that you wear to go out at night. A leader in Fragrance creation with some of the most acclaimed Master Perfumers in its ranks, Firmenich’sperfumers create unique signatures for some of the world’s most iconic and desirable brands.

“To give you a sense of proportion, there are more astronauts in the world than the perfumers. So, this is no easy feat. It’s a legacy we nurture from generation to generation.”

With a vision for international expansion, Firmenich’s exports grew steadily through a network of 30 agents around the globe. In 1936 the first overseas branch opened in New York. Very quickly the Company expanded its footprint across Latin America, Europe, India, Asia and Middle-East & Africa.Along with the discovery of dozens of breakthrough molecules, the discovery of raspberry and strawberry flavors in 1939 opened a new era for Firmenich. In 1945 the Flavor Business Unit was created, and fruit tetraromes were its first hit product. Firmenich has reinvented itself era after era, driven by its passion for creativity, world-class Research and an overriding sense of responsibility. Considered a thought-leader in Sustainability today, the Company signed the first International Chamber of Commerce’s Declaration for Sustainability in 1991, before the United Nations Summit in Rio that made Sustainable Development top of mind for all. With a turnover of 3.5 billion CHF, this fragrance and flavor House has established its niche as the world’s largest private company in the fragrance and flavor industry. Firmenich’s world-class creativity and innovation coupled with its responsible approach to business has been the driving force behind more than 123 years of successful growth. Taking a long term view of its industry, Firmenich believes in leading its business forward as a force for good, committed to creating value for its customers, colleagues, and communities.

Firmenich at-a-Glance

  • Group turnover- 3.5bn Swiss Francs (2018)
  • Average growth per year- 7% since 1989
  • of employees- 7,000 around the world
  • Global presence- 100+ markets
  • Facilities- 63 around the world
  • Manufacturing- 30 entities
  • R&D centers- 4 Geneva, Princeton, Shanghai and Gujarat
  • Patents presently in force- 2,900+
  • Annual turnover invested in R&D- 10%
  • R&D awards- 35 prizes and awards, including Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  • Company headquarters- Geneva, Switzerland

Pioneers in bio-based ingredients: With the launch of the industry’s very first White Biotech ingredient Clearwood® in 2014. The Group further anchored its leadership in white biotechnology with the launch of Ambrox® Super, a sustainable amber note, as well as a bio-based version of its iconic Z11 molecule, delivering a woody amber note.

Addressing the World’s Most Pressing Challenges

“For us, it’s about leading our Business in a way that is Good for Us; Good for our Customers, and Good for Society.”

With the best-in-class palette of ingredients, consumer insights, and advanced delivery technologies, Firmenich has been crafting fragrance solutions for fine fragrance, body care, home care, and air care categories; inspiring new olfactory experiences which delight consumers around the world. As a taste and nutrition partner, with its Flavors business, Firmenich creates taste experiences for the world’s preferred household brands, spanning beverages, sweet goods, and savory foods. Making healthy taste delicious, the organization’s leading taste modulation technologies holds expertise in reducing sugar, salt and fat by up to 50% while keeping an equal taste experience. In 2017 alone, Firmenich’s technologies enabled it to remove 150,000 tons of sugar from food &beverages, representing 600 billion calories!

Fuelling its success every day, science is Firmenich’s engine of growth. Since the creation of company by a talented Swiss chemist, to a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1939, all the way to pioneering the industry’s first white biotech ingredient, the organization’s success is rooted in world-class research. Today, Firmenich is committed to putting its innovation to work to address some the world’s most critical societal challenges by:

  • Making Healthy Taste Delicious
  • Making Hygiene Accessible to All
  • Offering the Best of Nature, Sustainably 

Recent Strategic Achievements 

  1. Acquisitions
  • February 2018: Flavourome – an established privately-held flavors company in South Africa that has been successfully serving the local market since 1998
  • February 2018: Natural Flavors – a privately-held pioneer in organic-certified natural flavors, headquartered in the US
  • November 2018: Exclusive Cooling & Freshness Technologies from Senomyx
  • July 2017: Agilex Fragrances – a leading fragrance company in North America serving mid-sized customers
  1. Expanding its Global Footprint
  • March 2018: Culinary Discovery Center in Thailand
  • September 2017: Global Perfumery Creative Center in Singapore
  • September 2017: Center of Excellence for Green Protein in Vienna
  • October 2017: Inaugurated a newmanufacturing plant for encapsulated flavors in Sao Paulo, offering customers increased competitiveness and speed-to-market for the Group’s core encapsulated flavor technologies, Durarome® Aromatic and Flexarome®.
  1. Fostering Diversity & Inclusion

For Firmenich, offering equal opportunities for all its colleagues to thrive, is not only rooted in its DNA as a family-owned company, it is the right thing to do!

Equality is embedded across its organization, starting at the top, with its Executive Committee, counting seven nationalities and one-third of women. Globally, the Group’s female colleagues represent 40% of its workforce and 36% of senior management.

That’s’ why Firmenich became the first Fragrance & Flavor house to commit to becoming a 100% certified gender equality employer in 2018.

Taking this one step further this year, Firmenich is the first Fragrance & Flavor house to commit to becoming a 100% certified gender equality employer in 2018, in a context where the industry average is a 20% pay gap.

  1. Awards & Recognitions
  • CDP Climate A-List: 2017
  • CDP Water A-List: 2017
  • CDP Forestry A-List: 2017
  • Alberto Morillas Inducted into Academia Del Perfume Foundation in Spain: 2017
  • Dupont Sustainability Award: 2017
  • Swiss Chamber of Commerce People Focus Award in Singapore: 2017
  • Perfumer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award: 2017
  • Perfumer of the year France: 2017
  • Better Society Award for Ethical Business:2017
  • CDP “Supply Chain Leader”: 2017
  • WBCSD Leading Women Award: 2017

Firmenich Indian

Having established its presencein India in 1994, Firmenich has excelled in becoming one of the most prestigious Fragrance and Flavor house ever known to the Indian industry. This pioneer of thesenses,is established in Mumbai, under the leadership of Mr. Satish Rao, Chairman & Managing Director of FirmenichIndia. Firmenich India counts close to 500 colleagues and 2 manufacturing plants, in addition to offices and laboratories. Part of the world’s fastest-growing economy, the Firmenich team is focused on bestowing the Group’s legacy of creative excellence to shape unique experiences for some of the top Indian food, personal care, and home care brands.

India is a very dynamic market, with many brands available today, not seen on shelves prior to the year 2000. This constant demand for innovation and the next best product translates into continual product launches.Growing urbanization in India and increased aspirations of millennial in areas of grooming and health consciousness are also fuelling the growth in the Fragrance & Flavor industry. Mr. Rao explains further, “In fragrance, current trends are moving towards ingredient stories and fragrance emotions. Previously seen with soap products, today this trend is developing widely across shampoos and laundry products, as well as home care. Future trends are focused on creating an emotional experience to connect consumers with brands. In terms of olfactive trends, we can also see more and more convergence towards pleasurable fruity fragrances, as well as more premium, sophisticated fragrances, with a large proportion of natural ingredients. In terms of Flavors, Indian food with its rich culinary heritage is a preferred cuisine across the country, with consumers looking for convenient healthy eating options. Influenced by other cultures, we are seeing rising demand for packaged products offering taste, convenience and nutrition. Bringing Firmenich’s legacy of responsible business to life in India, we have been successfully operating and expanding our Business in this key market the last 24 years.” 

Driving Sustainability

Firmenich is leading on many sustainability initiatives in India, especially at its manufacturing facility in Dahej, where the organization has achieved

  • Installation of agri-waste briquette fired boiler for steam generation replacing the natural gas boiler
  • Generation of ~800 tons/month of steam from waste burnt in the incinerator.
  • Recovery of ~50m3/day of usable water from wastewater through Reverse Osmosis
  • Installation of solar panels, solar water heaters and a tiny windmill on-site for part of electricity required
  • Installation of drip irrigation system to optimize water consumption in site green belt

Advancing Responsible Business

  • Firmenich’s Gujarat’s site was recognized this year as the Group’s number one plant worldwide for its Health, Safety & Environment performance- a testament to organization’s leadership in offering the safest and most sustainable working environment for its colleagues in India.
  • Consistent with its vision to lead a diverse and inclusive workplace, Firmenich India collaborated with the College of Fragrance for the Visually Impaired (COFVI), in Mumbai to enable professional opportunities for its visually impaired graduates and count some of its graduates in its Sensory panels. In Mumbai, Firmenich counts 25 panelists in its Global Sensory Platform.
  • Accelerating Responsible Nutrition: Firmenich is focused on developing solutions for greater health and nutrition to make healthy taste delicious, so it is the easy choice for consumers. In promoting alternative proteins and putting them at the center plate, the firm is catalyzing a shift toward more sustainable protein production and consumption.
  • Advancing Hygiene and Sanitation: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation approached Firmenich to join their Reinvent the Toilet Challenge and co-finance a broad-based 4-year research program to uncover the science of malodor. Firmenich sent its scientists out in the field to understand the science of bad smell in toilets across India, South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda. This focused work enabled the company to develop breakthrough technologies that effectively counter mal-odors in toilets. Currently, the organization in partnership with its customers is working to makethese solutions available to the populations most in need through affordable hygiene products.

“India is a leader in this area with the introduction of its Swachh Bharat initiative dedicated to “Clean India.” In this context, Toilet Board Coalition(TBC), wherein Firmenich is a founding member, recently entered a public-private partnership with the Pune Municipality that will become the first “Smart Sanitation” city.” asserts Mr. Rao “Aiming to accelerate access to hygienic toilet experiences across the “Base of the Pyramid”, we are dedicated to supporting a new generation of sanipreneurs reinventing the business of toilets for the greater good. Our collective investment of USD 15 million will transform some 125,000,000 lives.Furthermore, we will be sponsoring an innovative, ‘Mobile toilet for HER’ in the city of Pune, to provide a hygienic and pleasurable toilet experience for women.”

Leader in Naturals

Firmenich is committed to excellence in Naturals, to enrich its creators’ palette with the most pristine natural ingredients in a sustainable and traceable way. Through its “Naturals Together” initiative, from Jasmin in India, or Cardamom in Guatemala, all the way to Vanilla in Madagascar Firmenich positively impacts the lives of 250,000 farmers to ensure their sustainable livelihoods with the 170 natural ingredients varieties across 40 countries. In India, Firmenich has joined hands in a joint venture with Jasmin Concrete in Tamil Nadu’s Flower belt to source the finest flowers of India sustainably, supporting the sustainable livelihoods of thousands of families.

Partnering with Naandi

Back in 2010, Firmenich joined hands with Naandi, one of the largest and fastest growing NGOs working to eradicate poverty in India to launch “Shared Senses” project with two objectives:

To yield a better understanding of low-income consumers in India

To provide better nutrition & education to people at the bottom of the pyramid in India

Working with Naandi, Firmenich designed new ways of engaging and interviewing low-income consumers in India by training and coaching local young adults to be interviewers. A win-win project, as a result of this assignment, the young people were able to buy nutritious food for themselves and their families and also find better jobs thanks to the training provided. This effective consumer engagement and local community investment has been written up in a Wharton Business School case study entitled Firmenich in India: Changing the Rules of Engagement with Low-Income Consumers

Leadership Team 

Gilbert Ghostine – Chief Executive Officer


Gilbert joined Firmenich in October 2014 as the Group’s first non-family member CEO. Building on Firmenich’s legacy of world-class research and creativity, Gilbert is firmly focused on shaping winning solutions for his customers to delight their consumers worldwide. Determined to enable more sustainable lifestyles, Mr.Ghostine places sustainability at the core of Firmenich’s strategy and acts as co-chair of the WBCSD Sustainable Lifestyles Cluster.Having spent over two decades with Diageo, leading its businesses and living across 4 continents, Mr.Ghostineis recognized for his deep understanding of the Consumer Goods and Luxury industries. A Lebanese national, Gilbert is married with two children.

Satish Rao – Chairman & Managing Director

Firmenich India

Trained at Harvard University, with a Master’s degree in Science & an MBA in Marketing from Mumbai University, Mr. Satish Rao is a veteran of the flavor industry. He brings with him a corporate experience of 27 years at multinational companies like McCormick & Bayer. Mr. Rao has worked at various parts of the world like India, China & USA.

Prior to his present role, Mr. Rao was the Vice President, Emerging markets at McCormick based in Maryland, USA. He has assumed several key responsibilities in the past at functions like Marketing, General management & Acquisitions as a part of his 20-year stint at McCormick, a global leader in Foods. Mr. Rao was instrumental in the entry of McCormick into India through joint ventures and acquisition and eventually leading their business in India.

Mr. Rao is an avid golfer and also serves as President of his school alumni association based in Chembur, Mumbai.

Future Outlook

Sharing the road map for Firmenich India’s future voyage, Mr. Rao aligns, “We will continue to focus on providing our customers with the most creative and innovative fragrance and flavor solutions in order to delight their consumers. We are committed to  shaping positive emotions through taste and smell experiences; innovating for more well-being, such as nutrition and sanitation; protecting nature as our greatest sources of ingredients and inspiration; while shaping an environment where all our people can thrive.”

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