Shilpa Panicker, Vice President Global Oral Care, Scent & Care segment
Natural mint oils are one of the key ingredients we offer for toothpastes and mouthwashes, chewing gum and confectionery. Mentha Arvensis is one such mint oil cultivated by over a million small-scale producers in Uttar Pradesh, India. The supply chain is unique as there are several small holder farmers who often depend on intermediaries, and cannot yet dependably earn a living income.
Mint India is a transformative initiative, we have launched as a multistakeholder project that will allow us, alongside Mars, Tanager and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) to improve farmers’ lives and also cultivation practices. We are leveraging our diverse range of experiences in backward integration developed in our Bridging The Gap projects in Madagascar, Brazil and the Philippines.
Within a short period of time, 25,250 farmers are benefitting from the program. They receive comprehensive education on good agricultural practices (GAP) like crop rotation techniques and water management – these and various other measures can make cultivation significantly more sustainable. The farmers also gain access to processing and distillation techniques and financing through cooperatives. This means they can increase their productivity by 34 % and their income by 157 % per hectare. In addition, we also have several women and youth who are engaged in this program leading to higher empowerment for the individuals and enhanced quality of life for the families. Symrise also has a lot of advantages: The supply chain for incoming raw material is transparent and traceable, robust and sustainable. This has generated a lot of interest amongst our leading oral care customers, especially so as consumers today want to make a difference to the planet and demand greater transparency around what’s in their products.
Fanny Rakotoarivello, research and development of aromatic plants in Madagascar
Vanilla is the main source of income for farmers in the SAVA region of Madagascar. However, they often don’t earn enough with it to provide for their families for an entire year. It was important to us to help them earn regular income so they can be independent of money lenders and improve their standard of life.
We are therefore helping the farmers diversify their crops – for instance, with ginger, vetiver, mandarin oranges, patchouli, different kinds of pepper and bay leaves. These vary from region to region, depending on soil conditions and other environmental factors. Our support provides them with seedlings and young plants, offers training sessions on agricultural techniques, helps them tap into markets, ensures traceability back to the farm, and creates pathways to various certifications such as UEBT, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, organic and Fair Trade.
Symrise also benefits from this: Since the farmers have additional income from the other crops, they can, for example, wait until the vanilla is fully ripe and provides the best quality before harvesting it. At the same time, through our on-site research and development, we can use the wide variety of raw materials to compile a sustainable, high-quality portfolio. Since a large part of my work consists of communicating with local producers and supporting them in the technical processes, I see how both sides continue to benefit.
Thierry Lenice, Head of the Sidestream Upcycling Platform in the Business Incubation Group for Taste, Nutrition & Health
One of the tasks of our Sidestream Upcycling Platform is to find sensible ways to recycle the byproducts of meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables processed in our factories of Naturals, Business Unit of Symrise Food & Beverage. We are developing natural processes to achieve this, one of which is bioconversion. Bioconversion involves feeding flies larvae with fruit and vegetable byproducts for roughly seven to nine days. From the larval stage to their mature stage, the larvae absorb a very high amount of protein and concentrate some compounds. Once they are mature, we freeze the larvae and use them to produce two end products: insect flour, which we aim to use in products for aquacultures and pet food, and insect oil, which can be used as a technical ingredient in cosmetics and other areas. We also collect all the waste the insects produce and have it spread on fields as organic fertilizer.
In our tests so far, we have tried out six different sidestreams, including celery, onion pomace and banana peels. The process works – now we want to know which products have which benefits, for instance, if a specific kind of insect flour can demonstrate health benefits thanks to the compounds bioconcentration like beta-carotene. Over the next few months, we will evaluate how these products can be used and also how they can be produced on a larger scale.