About 8 % of all Symrise products contain onion juice concentrates or onion extract as a highly aromatic ingredient. It is an important raw material – and its significance continues to grow. The company aims to become the global leader in terms of product diversity and quality as well as the sustainability and efficiency of cultivation methods. Symrise invited farmers and industry experts to the first Onion Day to discuss this issue.

The onion’s a real winner: It is used as a flavor carrier, base ma­terial or spice in 95 % of all dried soups, sauces, readymade meals, frozen foods, fish or meat preparations. It can be sautéed in butter, roasted, fried, grilled, smoked or baked – and each time, it has a different taste, smell or effect. The “Queen of the Kitchen”, as the onion is also known, has a special significance for Symrise. The company has been processing it for around 60 years and puts its array of flavors to use in onion juice concentrates, essential onion oils and other flavors in around 8 % of all products.

Symrise obtains the majority of its onions from farmers within 50 kilometers of the plants where the vegetables are processed. This applies both to Germany and France, where the main pro­duction sites are located. Purchasing the onions from the region ensures low transport and energy costs. At the same time, it makes joint development work easier: Symrise works with consulting organizations such as the Hanover Chamber of Agriculture, universities and also with the producers and suppliers to make the products even better.

In July 2017, Symrise’s purchasers and onion expertise team met on a farm near Holzminden along with other employees, producers and industry experts to exchange views on sustainable cultivation methods. Symrise has a long-term supply contract with the farm’s owner. “The onion is an important key component for a new ­generation of flavors,” explained Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Bertram (Chief Executive Officer 2019 to March 2024), who attended along with his Executive Board colleagues Dr. Jean-Yves Parisot and Heinrich Schaper. “This Onion Day is a milestone for us on the road to backward integration,” said the CEO.

In the afternoon, Symrise presented new methods of cultivation, analysis and storage as well as the development of new processing methods. To illustrate this, visitors could examine the 800 m2 cul­tivation trial commissioned by Symrise and carried out by the Lower Saxony Chamber of Agriculture. Seventeen different strategies, the results of which differ markedly in some cases, highlighted the vast room for development in onion cultivation. For Bernd Neufert, ­Senior Strategic Buyer Agricultural Products, this continuous optimization is very important. “The quality of raw ­materials is extremely important in the production process and demands are constantly rising. Continuously improving cultivation technology in the field helps us ensure a sustainable supply of high-­quality onions.”

“The onion is an important key component for a new generation of flavors.”

Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Bertram
Chief Executive Officer (2019 to March 2024)