Flavour and fragrance compounds are created for different products ranging from cosmetics and toiletries to household cleaning and oral hygiene items. They are also used in foods, snacks and beverages. Basically, they are used when the base odour of the final product needs to be masked.
Internationally, the University of Plymouth, the U.K., and the ISIPCA, Versailles, France offer courses in this field. The B.A. Honours in Business and Perfumery from the University of Plymouth is an undergraduate programme with perfumery as an elective and accredited by the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades (IFEAT). The ISIPCA offers higher education programmes and training in the fields of perfume, cosmetics and flavouring. In addition to the above, large flavours and fragrance houses provide training programmes for aspirants. In India, too, many multinational and homegrown flavour and fragrance houses actively recruit and train potential candidates.
There are three major disciplines in perfumery: fragrance creation, application and evaluation. Aspiring students can have a range of job opportunities under these categories. Fragrance creation consists of creating new compounds and a host of creative processes to train as a perfumer. It is a blend of Organic Chemistry and the art of perfumery. A Bachelor’s and/or Master’s in Chemistry or Science with Chemistry as a discipline is preferred.
The applications department includes roles pertaining to the safety, stability and performance of fragrances in the intended base. Analytical Chemists and those holding a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry can apply for jobs in this department. Fragrance evaluation is about understanding the performance, stability and safety in the end-use situation from the consumer’s perspective. Those with a background in Science and Marketing Research have many opportunities in this department.
While a good sense of smell is a prerequisite, there are certain fragrances that only a few people can distinguish. For instance, some people have an issue with smelling different functional groups of musk. You can develop your olfactory memory by practising smelling different ingredients over time. With practice, you can memorise odours and develop your odour vocabulary.
The global fragrance industry is worth around $24 billion and India contributes about $500 million. The current growth rate is at 11%. To help the industry grow, educating the buyer is an important aspect of perfume retail in India. India’s aromatic heritage is a key factor for the perfume and fragrance industry to function fluidly.
One has to obtain experience in laboratory courses and should undergo multiple internships. This field also requires time-management and multitasking skills. One must learn to work in teams since fragrance chemists are more likely to team up with groups of researchers. Building communication skills can help express or explain one’s ideas, data, and thoughts to their colleagues. Since there are not too many perfumers available, salary levels are high and it is a lucrative career for those interested in this lifestyle business.
The writer is a perfume creator and Managing Director, Ripple Fragrances.