The following is a guest post by Zanos.
Aroma ingredients come in lots of different forms – from natural essential oils to synthetic aroma chemicals, not to mention combinations of the two.
They range from bases that hold fragrances together for longer, to individual odour notes, to more complex accords that blend multiple notes into a unified aroma, and pyramid notes that are perceived differently over a period of time.
While manufacturers might make a big deal of using only natural aroma ingredients, the fact is that synthetic aroma chemicals are by far the larger proportion of the market, and with good reason.
Synthetic aroma chemicals offer benefits including:
- Lower cost and consistent budgeting for commercially driven projects.
- Consistent quality and less variation due to climate or location of source.
- Large volume production means reliable supply even of large quantities.
Natural aroma ingredients have their benefits too – and the higher cost and scarcity of some is even seen as beneficial in markets like top-end fragrances, where it is helpful for products to be thought of as exclusive.
But for some applications, synthetic aroma chemicals are the only option, including developing new molecules that don’t occur in nature at all, and these massively expand the range of options open to the perfumer.
What are the key markets for synthetic aroma chemicals?
Synthetic aroma chemicals can be found in several key markets:
- Household toiletries and cosmetics with high-volume production.
- Markets transitioning from natural fragrance ingredients to synthetic aroma chemicals.
- Rising use of artificial menthol reduces need for natural crops.
- Vanilla substitutes tackle supply problems due to weather events.
- Chemical processing can also transform natural raw materials.
This last point is an important one because the line between natural fragrance ingredients and synthetic aroma chemicals is increasingly blurred by the methods used by perfume chemists to process natural ingredients.
Perfume ingredients like Ambroxan are a fine example of this, helping to reduce the use of controversial natural aroma ingredients like ambergris, while still providing the kind of musky, complex scent that great perfumes are built on.
It also highlights how intricately connected perfumery and chemistry are – whether blending aroma ingredients to produce a unique perfume, or applying chemical processes to create something more than the sum of its parts.
Because of this, the expertise of modern aroma chemists and experienced perfumers means that synthetic aroma chemicals are found in every market, both alongside and often instead of their natural counterparts.
This post is in collaboration with Zanos which specialises in sourcing and supplying high-quality natural essential oils and aroma chemicals for the UK and European flavour and fragrance industry. Founded in 2000 and based on over 25 years’ experience in the chemical and allied industries, Zanos has extensive contacts and performs as a distributor, supplier and sourcing agent.