Climate change is hitting fragrance ingredients. How are perfumers responding?

By Julia Wray | Published: 19-Jan-2023

Climate change is one of many factors affecting the availability of both natural and synthetic fragrance materials

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Fragrance marketing leans heavily on the beauty of nature.

Whether via names like Flowerbomb, Daisy or Black Orchid, or imagery of mangoes and coconuts on exotic-smelling hair mask packs, what we opt to smell of is often linked to the flowers, fruits, roots and barks that we harvest from the earth.  

However, some naturally-derived aroma ingredients are now embattled as a result of the climate crisis.

In October last year, Bloomberg reported that farmers in Grasse, France, the global centre of fragrance creation, had seen crops wither as a result of unprecedented temperatures across Europe, with tuberose said to have been especially hard hit.

“There are many fragrance ingredients that have been affected by climate change, the war in Ukraine, as well as the energy crisis,” says Lisa Hipgrave, Director of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) UK.

“Natural materials are particularly affected by the weather extremes – droughts, cyclones, tropical storms and flooding have hit many countries including France, China, Brazil, India, Madagascar and Indonesia, affecting all manner of the crops which supply many of the ingredients our perfumers use.”

Delving into current availability issues, Ana Ripoll, Perfumer at Croda-owned fragrance manufacturer Iberchem, notes: “Recent water shortages have affected the harvest of the rose centifolia and lavender in France. This is something we will notice this year.

“Drought also damaged grapefruit production worldwide [and], in summer 2021, the industry had availability issues with Virginian cedarwood.”

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