Fragrances and flavors play a key role in influencing millions of Indians in their daily buying decisions. Most consumers, however, associate the F&F with France, maybe unaware of how this industry has evolved and grown locally. The Indian F&F industry pegged at around $1.4 billion in 2019 with exports accounting for 12% of total production, currently has 3% market share in the global F&F industry, according to industry estimates. Known among his peers as the ‘Nose of India’, Manoj Arorais an F&F veteran responsible for creating several brands in the FMCG and the F&B space. Arora, chief perfumer & MD at Sacheerome, an F&F manufacturer and supplier, opens up about the secret business of smell. Excerpts:
Tell us about your journey in the F&F business?
Years ago, I happened to become a perfumer when I discovered I had a strong sense of smell. I used to frequently visit Europe in my early years. My grandfather was in the business of saffron and real musk. Later, my father shifted to trading other ingredients and I joined the business in the 1980s. During my interactions with perfumers I discovered that I have a good nose. They trained and guided me to hone my skills. Finally, in the mid eighties, I decided not to trade and ventured into this field. We currently have clients in global markets. Being in the business for so long, I feel if India continues to benchmark against global quality standards and offers affordable pricing, we would have a competitive advantage worldwide in the long run.
Can you take us for a short spin inside the world of Indian F&F industry?
India is very rich in natural essential oils and aromas. In fact, the essential oil market has always remained untapped. It is only now that people are realizing how conducive the conditions are to produce expensive oils in India. Globally, I think we are in an advantageous position and at the cusp of making it big in this field. We are 20 % of the world’s population and we make up only 3 % of the entire market share. So I think there is immense scope of growth there. We have world-class R&D facilities in place for production. Moreover, product development is in full swing. That’s where a lot of companies are also bringing in innovation in fragrances. We live in a hot, humid country and longevity plays a very important role with a weather such as ours. This kind of demand is unique to the Indian market. People can’t really afford high-end products here, so there’s a lot of trust involved from the buyer’s perspective.
What is the role of fragrance in the non-food segment?
In this segment, the largest chunk of market share belongs to laundry agents, which is about 29 %. Of this, 75 % comes from detergent, powders and bars. Powders and bars form the largest segment. Liquids, conditioners and other laundry aids are quite small. There’s innovation happening in liquid detergents. Until now, washing clothes with hands was common. But with washing machines, there’s a shift towards liquid laundry detergent. There are fabrics that need special care and they are washed in either front load or top load machines. Then there are different kinds of liquid detergents. These detergents may have a certain unique ingredient or are priced differently but essentially it is the fragrance that makes the product more likable and appealing. That’s how people prefer one product over. Most of them have therapeutic values. They make you feel refreshed and relaxed after taking a bath or by wearing certain fabrics.
How is Sacheerome positioned?
Fragrance was always dominated by five prominent companies in the world. Out of these, Firmenich is the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company. Others such as Givaudan and Symrise are major players. On the other hand, there is the emergence of several multinational consumer goods companies. So I think India has been dynamic in producing both fragrances as well as the end product. All our fragrances have to be IFRA (International Fragrance Association) compliant and flavors have to be in accordance with FEMA (Flavor Extract Manufacturers Association) guidelines.