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Fragrance ingredients made via fermentation have arrived on a commercial scale

By Deanna Utroske

31-May-2017
Last updated on 31-May-2017 at 16:31 GMT2017-05-31T16:31:35Z

Fragrance ingredients made via fermentation have arrived on a commercial scale

Robertet and Ginkgo Bioworks collaborated on a production strategy, using designer yeast, that can now create fragrance notes at a scale sufficient to meet the needs of the cosmetics, perfume, and personal care industry.

The two companies began working together in earnest in late 2015. Prior to that Robertet and Ginkgo Bioworks developed a rose note together as a sort of test project to determine how viable this biotech ingredient sourcing strategy could be.

For the larger, second project Ginkgo set out to develop seven lactone ingredients (those are creamy stone fruit and tropical notes similar to peach, apricot, mango, and coconut).

Using fermentation to create scent ingredients is more nuanced than creating other sorts of products with this technology, as Cosmetics Design reported . “To create a perfume you need more than just the data from mass spectrometry, you also need to know what it actually smells like to a nose,” Christina Agapakis, creative director, told this publication in 2015. She went on to acknowledge that “making perfumes is therefore a really great mix of art and science.”

Bigger biotech

This month, Ginkgo Bioworks announced that the companies’ latest endeavor to scale production of the fermented ingredients is a success. “We are thrilled to be working with Ginkgo on the next generation of flavor and fragrance ingredients," says Bob Weinstein, president of Robertet Ingredients and CEO of Robertet USA, in the press release. “We're proud to have reached this milestone in commercial scale fermentation and to continue developing innovative ingredients in the future.”

It’s a notable achievement for Ginkgo too. The startup launched in 2008 with the objective of using biological means to grow ingredients / products rather than manufacture them conventionally and now has a track record of success. To date, Ginkgo has contracted with some 20 customers (on 40+ products) in fragrance, cosmetics, nutrition, and food.

“It's great to see a project go from conception with a customer, through design of the organism and process development, all the way to a 50,000 liter fermentation,” Jason Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, tells the press. “Robertet has been a great partner throughout this process and we look forward to building many more successful products together."

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