With an additional site in Brazil, Symrise is taking new steps to sustainably develop and produce innovative products. This includes a cooperation with the customer Natura Cosmetics at the Ecoparque located in the north of the Amazon region. At the same time, Symrise is supporting the local population with the creation of secure jobs. In this interview, Eder Ramos, Head of Scent & Care Latin America and Global President of the Cosmetic Ingredients division, as well as Executive Board member Achim Daub explain why Symrise is located deep in the tropical rainforest.
Mr. Ramos, why is Symrise building a new plant for the research, development and production of sustainable ingredients in the Brazilian state of Pará? Eder Ramos: There are several good reasons. The Amazon region’s unique natural diversity offers us a rich source of raw materials. We have convenient access to the sea from Benevides in the north of the state, where we built the production facilities. This allows us to reach the markets in Europe, the Caribbean and the United States from here by sea. Additionally, 7.5 million inhabitants live in the state, which means we can find skilled workers from various industries. Last but not least, sales in body and beauty care products in Latin America are an important argument: In 2013, its market volume totaled USD 78.9 billion. This market is expected to grow 7.2 % annually by 2017. That is why it makes sense to invest here.
You are working closely with the Natura Group, which manufactures cosmetics using sustainable methods. What are the objectives of one of your largest customers in Brazil? Eder Ramos: Companies from various market segments are settling in the Ecoparque in order to share resources and work together on developing innovations. We also want to provide new sources of income for the locals. Similarly, we will also work with local universities on scientific studies, which will identify new ingredients for later use.
Mr. Daub, what effect does this type of close partnership with a customer have on Symrise’s other activities in Scent & Care? Achim Daub: In our business, we have to know the markets like the back of our hand. We are also heavily dependent on creativity and innovation. One of the ways we accomplish this is through strategic partnerships with scientific institutions, with suppliers or, as in the case of Natura Cosmetics, with customers. We were particularly intrigued with the Ecoparque, as it allowed us to combine advantages for us with our commitment to bringing sustainability to the local communities. How much of this can be transferred to other projects is yet to be seen. We’ll have a better idea once the Ecoparque is up and running in the first quarter of 2015. But we have already learned, or confirmed, that anything is possible at Symrise when it is based on a strong vision and a solid business plan – as is the case with the Ecoparque.
MURUMURU: The butter produced from the fruit of this palm tree is rich in fresh fats and various acids. It moisturizes and makes skin elastic.
Application areas: Shampoo, conditioners, creams and lotions, soaps and lipsticks.
CUPUAÇU: This butter extracted from seeds contains saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and has a low melting point of 30 degrees Celsius – it quickly melts on the skin and is rapidly absorbed.
In the northern region of Amazonas, in the heart of nature, lies the new Symrise development and production location.
Symrise on site: Eder Ramos (back row, sixth from left), Regional President of the Scent & Care division in Latin America and Global President of the Cosmetic Ingredients division, Ricardo Omori, Vice President Fragrances in Latin America (back row, first from left), and Board Member Achim Daub (back row, eighth from left) discussed the future collaboration with a number of village communities.
Achim Daub (right) and Ferdinando Srado (left), Industrial Manager Ecoparque, encompass the new raw materials with all their senses – one of the goals of the tour through the Brazilian rainforest.
BRAZIL NUTS: This nut, which grows on trees ten to 15 meters high, contains selenium. This substance has antioxidant properties. The oil extracted from Brazil nuts prevents skin water loss, helping keep the skin soft and smooth.
Application areas: Aftershaves, fine soaps, hair conditioners and products to reduce stretch marks.
Symrise just opened the new Center of Excellence in 2012 near São Paulo. Why is there such a strong focus on Brazil? Achim Daub: The country is the third largest market for beauty care products in the world. According to multiple forecasts, it will overtake China by 2017 and thereby trail only the USA in this segment. Brazilians spend 30 % more on beauty products than the average global consumer. This market is already number 1 for perfumes, deodorants and UV protection products.
Let’s talk details: What exactly will be produced in the factory? Eder Ramos: For us, it is important to first ensure that we can sustainably obtain sufficient quantities of the raw materials we need. That works with our approach at the Ecoparque. After that, we will be manufacturing essential oils and essences with our patented SymTrap® technology. We extract oils and butter from the seeds and pulp of the different fruits. We then refine the raw material to remove the colors. With a low-pressure distillation process, we then eliminate unpleasant smells.
What do you do with these new raw materials? Eder Ramos: We can replicate every process step on a much smaller scale in the laboratory and later transfer these to a pilot plant, where we will produce larger quantities for the first time. This allows us to constantly test our research results and assess their marketability.
AÇAÍ: This species of palm tree can grow up to 25 meters in height. Its grape-shaped purple to black fruit is edible. The oil of the pulp contains a high concentration of the anti-oxidant anthocyanin, which helps slow the aging process for skin, along with essential fatty acids.
Symrise already performs intensive research in Scent & Care. What are the reasons for continuously expanding this research? Achim Daub: Our business is driven by innovation and creativity. Every day, we have the opportunity and obligation to improve the lives of consumers with higher quality products that are sustainably manufactured in order to meet the challenges of climate change and the increasing scarcity of certain raw materials.
What can you learn from Brazil that you can apply to other markets? Achim Daub: We will learn even more on how we can develop innovative products in a very special region with unique biodiversity. Through our partnership with Natura, we will learn what foundational elements are needed for such cooperations. These insights will be used around the world in other projects where sustainability and economic success are combined.
You are not just building a factory, but also working closely with the locals. What does this look like? Achim Daub: We promote the economic and social development of villages and support more than 2,000 families in the region by working with them on the cultivation and harvest of the raw materials. We would like to benefit from the centuries-old knowledge of the indigenous people while adhering to the clear rules defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity. This agreement protects a region’s natural resources against exploitation from third parties and emphasizes that local inhabitants receive fair compensation.
The site is not limited to the research and manufacture of sustainable ingredients, but will also entail sustainable production processes. What are the particular features of the factory? Eder Ramos: In short, we will operate as environmentally friendly as possible at every level. For instance, we use electric cars and bicycles in the factory. The air conditioning runs on geothermal energy, meaning that we cool the building with the lower temperatures found below the ground. We use botanical-mineral filters to purify wastewater and rain water for production. The natural ventilation and lighting creates a healthy and creative working atmosphere.