The Fragrances of the World

The Fragrances and Flavors of the World : Guest Speaker Pascal Becker, Global Sustainability Manager at Givaudan, takes BSL students on a trip around the world of sustainable sourcing


Givaudan is the market leader in fragrances and aromas. Since it is a “business to business” company, the name Givaudan is not very well known by the average consumer. Nevertheless, chances are high that you are in contact with Givaudan’s substances several times a day. This is because their fragrances and flavors are ingredients in many, many consumer goods like shampoo, drinks, food and, yes, of course, perfume and cosmetics.

Pascal Becker introduced us to the fascinating world of smells and tastes by pointing out how much fragrances and flavors are depending on the different cultures we are coming from.

Our class had a very inspiring and emotional brainstorming about what fragrances or tastes we associated with our home countries: Jasmine for Spain, linden tree flowers for Germany, ylang-ylang for Costa Rica, laurel for Russia, lavender for England, tea for Vietnam…

In order to produce all their different fragrances and aromas Givaudan needs to source an amazing multitude of substances. 10.000 ingredients form 2000 raw material suppliers all over the world: Vanillia from Madagaskar, vetiver form Haiti, Patchouli from Borneo, palm oil form Indonesia…

This is where sustainable sourcing and business ethics become a key strategy for Givaudan. The company needs to make sure that the ingredients they source are of good quality, that cultivating them is done without causing ecological damage and that the people and communities who depend on the cultivation of these crops have save and fair working conditions.

To assure that suppliers are compliant with standards in labour rights, business integrity, environment and health & safety Givaudan conducts audits at their suppliers. The audit results are then shared on the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange, SEDEX.

Givaudan also goes beyond audits. They know that if you want to source ethically you cannot do this alone. That is why Givaudan joined many collective initiatives like

Natural Resources Stewardship Circle. This is an initiative of the industry leaders in beauty, and fragrances that put up guidelines to help reduce their impact on biodiversity and promote the social and economic development of local communities.

Pascal shared a video with us that shows an example of how the work of the NRSC has made a difference for a farmers’ cooperative for vetiver in Haiti.

Vetiver is a type of grass with deep roots that produces an essential oil used in perfumes. The project with the NRSC helps the farmers to improve their cultivation techniques and introduce environmental criteria. Furthermore, the support of the NRSC empowered farmers in their position with the distillery and the traders. Projects like these are game changers. The sourcing companies, like Givaudan, are no longer just clients who try to get good quality vetiver for a low price. Now they are engaged with the whole local community and help them to develop.

This is exactly where the topic of our class « Business ethics and negotiation » comes in: Givaudan moved from a win-lose approach of negotiating about the price of the product to an integrative approach of negotiation. Negotiation is no longer just about who will get the biggest piece of the cake. It has been turned into a collective decision-making process because all parties involved cannot reach their goals individually.

Pascal also mentioned AIM-PROGRESS, a forum of leading Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) manufacturers assembled to enable and promote responsible sourcing practices and sustainable supply chains. In particular, they have a work stream on Business Integrity which provides guidance and training to members and their suppliers on anti-corruption laws.

Pascal’s talk and his hands-on examples really illustrated the argument that for successful negotiations, especially in long-term business relationships, ethics and trust are equally important, if not more important, than money.

For more details: http: //


Dr. Bettina Palazzo
Professor at BSL

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