Last updated
Firmenich International SA
IndustryFlavors, Fragrance, Ingredient
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Key people
Gilbert Ghostine (CEO), Patrick Firmenich (Chairman)
ProductsFlavors, Fragrance, Ingredient
Revenue CHF 3.9 billion (2019)
Number of employees
10,000 (2020)

Firmenich SA is a private Swiss company in the fragrance and flavor business. It is the largest privately owned company in the field and ranks number two worldwide. [1] Firmenich has created perfumes for over 100 years and produced a number of well-known flavors.

Firmenich employs 10,000 people across 66 facilities. [2] Major competitors include Givaudan, International Flavors and Fragrances and Symrise.


The company was founded as Chuit & Naef in 1895 in Geneva by chemist Philippe Chuit and businessman Martin Naef. Fred Firmenich joined in 1900 and later became the majority partner. The company was renamed Firmenich SA. Firmenich's board named Gilbert Ghostine as CEO to succeed Patrick Firmenich, effective October 1, 2014. [3] Patrick Firmenich was elected as chairman of Firmenich’s Board of Directors as of October 12, 2016. [4]

Originally a fragrance company, Firmenich branched into the flavor business by creating a raspberry substitute in 1938, followed by creations of citrus and strawberry flavor. Other synthetic flavors followed for use in processed foods and preserved foods. [1]

In 1939, Firmenich Director of Research and Development Lavoslav Ružička was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. [5]

On May 3, 2007, Firmenich announced that it would be acquiring the flavors division of Danisco, Noville, in a deal worth €450 million. [6] [7] The deal was expected to move Firmenich ahead of IFF as the second largest flavor company in the world. [1]

On July 11, 2017, Firmenich completed the acquisition of Agilex Fragrances, expanding its ability to serve mid-sized customers in North America. [8]

On December 13, 2017, Firmenich announced the acquisition of Flavourome, an established privately held flavors company in South Africa, to expand its presence in Africa. [9] On February 5, 2018, Firmenich confirmed the successful completion of the acquisition. [10]

In 2018, Firmenich completed the acquisition of Senomyx. [11] Earlier in the year the company also acquired Campus, [12] an innovator in the application of natural functional ingredients for protein, specializing in clean label, meat, dairy, sauces and plant-based food, as well as Natural Flavors, a manufacturer of flavors for the food and beverage industry.

Firmenich is a member of the European Flavour Association. [13]

Related Research Articles

Flavor, flavour, or taste is the perceptual impression of food or other substances, and is determined primarily by the chemical senses of the gustatory and olfactory system. The "trigeminal senses", which detect chemical irritants in the mouth and throat, as well as temperature and texture, are also important to the overall gestalt of taste perception. The taste of food, can be altered naturally or artificially.

Leopold Ružička

Leopold Ružička was a Croatian-Swiss scientist and joint winner of the 1939 Nobel Prize in Chemistry who worked most of his life in Switzerland. He received eight honoris causa doctorates in science, medicine, and law; seven prizes and medals; and twenty-four honorary memberships in chemical, biochemical, and other scientific societies.

Revlon, Inc. is an American multinational cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, and personal care company. Headquartered in New York City, Revlon was established on March 1, 1932, and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

McCormick & Company Spice, herb, and flavoring provider headquartered in Maryland, U.S.

McCormick & Company is a global food company that manufactures, markets, and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments, and other flavoring products for the industrial, restaurant, institutional, and home markets. A Fortune 1000 company, McCormick has approximately 12,400 employees. The company headquarters moved from Sparks to Hunt Valley, Maryland in the third quarter of 2018.

Kerry Group

Kerry Group plc is a public food company headquartered in Ireland. It is quoted on the Dublin ISEQ and London stock exchanges.


Senomyx is an American biotechnology company working toward developing additives to amplify certain flavors and smells in foods. The company claims to have essentially "reverse engineered" the receptors in humans that react for taste and aroma, and that they are capitalizing on these discoveries to produce chemicals that will make food taste better. On 17 Sept 2018, Firmenich completed the acquisition of Senomyx.

Givaudan is a Swiss multinational manufacturer of flavours, fragrances and active cosmetic ingredients. As of 2008, it is the world's largest company in the flavour and fragrance industries.

International Flavors & Fragrances

International Flavors & Fragrances is an American corporation that produces flavors, fragrances, and cosmetic actives, which it markets globally. It is headquartered in New York City and has creative, sales, and manufacturing facilities in 44 different countries. The company is a member of the S&P 500 Index.


Symrise AG is a major producer of flavours and fragrances with sales of €3.154 billion in 2018. Major competitors include Firmenich, Givaudan, International Flavors and Fragrances, Frutarom and Takasago International. Symrise is a member of the European Flavour Association.

Quest International was a major producer of flavors, fragrances and food ingredients with sales of £560 million in 2005 before its acquisition by rival Givaudan. Quest created and marketed flavours and fragrance concepts and solutions for the fast-moving consumer goods industries. With operations in 31 countries, Quest made ingredients for foods, snacks, beverages, personal care, fine fragrances, and home hygiene products.

Perfumer Expert on creating perfume compositions

A perfumer is an expert on creating perfume compositions, sometimes referred to affectionately as a nose due to their fine sense of smell and skill in producing olfactory compositions. The perfumer is effectively an artist who is trained in depth on the concepts of fragrance aesthetics and who is capable of conveying abstract concepts and moods with compositions. At the most rudimentary level, a perfumer must have a keen knowledge of a large variety of fragrance ingredients and their smells, and be able to distinguish each one alone or in combination with others. They must also know how each reveals itself over time. The job of the perfumer is very similar to that of flavourists, who compose smells and flavourants for commercial food products. The practice of perfume making has recently attracted academic interest among major research funding agencies.

Takasago International Corporation is a major international producer of flavours and fragrances headquartered in Japan, with presence in 27 countries and regions worldwide.

Sensient Technologies

Sensient Technologies is a global manufacturer and marketer of colors, flavors and fragrances based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their products are used in many foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, home and personal care products, specialty printing and imaging products, computer imaging and industrial colors. Sensient reported revenue of $1,468 million in 2013. Subdivisions include the Sensient Flavors & Fragrances Group and the Sensient Color Group. Within the Flavors & Fragrances Group is Sensient Natural Ingredients.

Mane SA

Mane SA is a major producer of flavours and fragrances with sales of €1,058 million in 2016.

Wild Flavors

Wild Flavors, Inc. is a manufacturer of flavors, colors, and food and beverage ingredients Its headquarters are in Erlanger, Kentucky and the firm is affiliated with Rudolf WILD GmbH & Co. KG and Dr. Hans-Peter Wild..

Robertet Group is a French fragrance and flavor manufacturer that specializes in natural raw materials founded in 1850.

Robert M. Amen served as president of International Paper from 2003 to 2006. He served as the chairman and CEO of International Flavors and Fragrances from 2006 to 2009. He is Chairman of the Deming Center Advisory Board at Columbia University. He is chairman of Verso Paper.

Greenhill is an independent investment bank founded in 1996 by Robert F. Greenhill. The firm provides advice on mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, financings, and capital raisings to leading corporations, partnerships, institutions and governments across a number of industries.

European Flavour Association (EFFA) is a non-profit European-level trade association of the flavor industry, based in Brussels, Belgium. Founded in 1961, the organisation originally focused on both flavours and fragrances, but has focused solely on flavours since 2006. Its members include 12 national and 10 direct member companies.

Niche perfume is perfume made by companies dedicated primarily to creating perfume, as opposed to perfume from fashion houses or famous people. These companies are generally smaller than the major fragrance firms like Coty Inc., Puig, and Firmenich, but bigger than “indie perfume” lines that are generally owned and operated by the perfumer themselves. Especially since the 2010s, however, the distinction has blurred as more and more niche perfume brands have been purchased by a larger parent corporation.


  1. 1 2 3 "Flavor & Fragrance Industry – Top 10". Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  2. Stuart, Eden. "Firmenich Posts FY 2019 Financials". Perfumer & Flavorist. Retrieved 2019-10-25.
  3. "Firmenich Names New CEO Gilbert Ghostine, Effective Oct. 1". Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  4. "Firmenich Appoints New Chairman, Board Members". 12 October 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  5. "Forward-thinking research for fragrance & flavor expertise". Firmenich. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  6. Heller, Lorraine (July 3, 2007). "Danisco completes flavours sale to Firmenich". Food Navigator. William Reed Business Media. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  7. "All News". Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  8. "Firmenich to Acquire Agilex Fragrances". Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  9. "Firmenich Acquires Flavourome". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  10. "Firmenich Acquires Flavourome". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  11. "Firmenich Acquires Flavourome". Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  12. "Firmenich Acquires Campus". Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  13. "About EFFA". EFFA. Retrieved 3 March 2018.