The demand for natural fragrance ingredients is responsible for global market growth, according to Research and Markets. The market research provider estimates the 2014 fragrance ingredient market at $13.08bn and predicts growth over 5% annually in the coming years that will land the market at $17.1bn by 2017.
Consumers purchasing natural fragrances “are seeking healthier lifestyles and alternatives which trickle down to their beauty regime. Our consumer, like our fragrance scents, are non-generational. Our consumer can be the granddaughter to the grandmother; new moms to those with sensitivities to synthetic fragrances,” Wendi Berger, president of Pour le Monde Parfums told Cosmetics Design.
Accordingly, “manufacturers are looking for natural-based or naturally derived fragrances, avoiding synthetic-based ingredients which have a perceived heightened risk of allergies and toxins,” confirmed Simon Pitman, senior editor of Cosmetics Design.
Not quite natural
What ingredients qualify as natural depends on the understanding and preferences of consumers, but the industry is coming closer to defining the concept. “Even though there are many 'natural' fragrances on the market, when you really break it down, they can still contain trace amounts of petrochemicals,” observes Berger.
“It's all about how the essential oils are derived. Many use absolutes, which are rich, beautiful, expensive and can add depth to a fragrance. But they need to be extracted using a hexane or petroleum ether, and are not recognized as being natural by the Natural Products Association,” she told Cosmetics Design.
Confirmed natural fragrance ingredients can be difficult to come by. “They are hard to source, import and distribute,” admits Berger. As a result, at Pour le Monde Parfums for instance, natural perfumers work with only 300 notes in contrast to the 10,000+ synthetic notes available.
“If costs come down and distribution gets easier, you will see more natural fragrances being used in the marketplace. Right now, synthetics are super inexpensive,” says Berger. And this is perhaps why prominent companies, like Symrise and Givaudan, as well as investors are spending big to be involved with the natural ingredient supply chain.
Berger expects that such investment “will only widen the ingredient pool to create even more complex fragrances. It will also help lower the cost [of natural fragrance ingredients] making it more affordable to the big companies who constantly watch their bottom line.”
Certification equates to an assurance of authenticity for consumers who are shopping for natural personal care products but aren’t equipped to sort that out on a purchase-by-purchase basis.
“There is no regulation on having the word 'natural' on packaging so even if an ingredient is added at a very small percentage, [a brand] can state that the product is made with natural ingredients,” says Berger.
She likes the Natural Products Association seal, which requires brands use “ingredients that come or are made from a renewable resource found in nature (Flora, Fauna, Mineral), with absolutely no petroleum compounds.”