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Materials: The Scent of a Winner

By: Steve Tanner
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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For perfumers, there is also concern about the issue of palette reduction—the potential elimination of key fragrance ingredients, again in response to regulatory pressure, notably in the European Union, which has banned fragrance ingredients. Bans often seem to have no basis in valid scientific research. For example, some ingredients in fragrance formulations are used in very small concentrations, say, one part in a billion, which in scientific terms means “virtually undetectable.” In terms for those without scientific backgrounds, that’s the equivalent of one inch in 15,782 miles. But if legislators see a given ingredient as a risk, a valuable ingredient that has served the industry safely and effectively for years may be lost. This hurts perfumery.

Clarity in “Green”

In product development, the most exciting trend during the past five years has been the tremendous growth of natural and organic products. Today’s fragrances must be designed to support these new product platforms. Natural fruit fragrances, for example, are based on ingredients that use the whole fruit—seeds, leaves and stems included. New carbon dioxide-based extraction processes for the production of essences and ingredients is a further boon to these development practices. Totally inert, these processes avoid the use of alcohol or petroleum-based solvents and make organic platforms more complete and more sustainable.

Some clients and compliance officers—and some consumers—are seeking greater clarity about the precise meaning of “green,” “natural” and “organic.” In fragrance materials, natural and organic can be definitively articulated, and subtle differences in processing can be authenticated and certified. But “green” is a marketing term, not a scientific one.

Some marketers assume fragrance is merely a fragrance industry concern. But the regulatory and legislative pressures on this industry are global and real. Since we work together in this business and our creative innovations are combined in the same brands, we must address these issues together.

Steve Tanner is the president of Arylessence, and serves on the boards of the Fragrance Materials Association (FMA) and the Consumer Specialty Products Assocation (CSPA). He is an industry voice on behalf of the safety and quality of fragrance ingredients. A business graduate of Georgia State University, he served in the United States Army and resigned with the rank of Captain, earning the Bronze Star for Valor. Prior to joining Arylessence, he held senior operational and logistics positions with Airborne and Trailways, where he was director of operations for the Eastern U.S.