"We keep a sustainable view on every single stage of our value chain: from the cultivation and decomposition of our raw materials, our local partners and suppliers around the world, product development and optimization of our manufacturing processes at the Symrise sites, and sale of our products to our customers and consumers. In doing so, we are guided by the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.“
Head of Sustainability, Flavor
The 17 global sustainability objectives pave the way for sustainable development and provide the framework for what we as a company can and must achieve to guarantee successful operations in the future as well. Due to our broad positioning and our multilayered business model, we ultimately have to keep an eye on all of the goals. However, we are aware that we cannot tackle every goal equally but must focus on those where we can make the most effective contribution. On the basis of the SDG subgoals, we identified six SDGs (8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17) in 2018, with which we at Symrise, in collaboration with our partners, can achieve a particularly high impact with regard to our business activities and the effects of our actions on the environment and society – throughout our entire value chain.
Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries
Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors
Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead
By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment
Global biodiversity is an indispensable source of inspiration and natural raw materials for Symrise when it comes to creating new flavors, fragrances and other products in customer industries. Protecting biodiversity and thus natural habitats on land and in water is therefore an essential concern for Symrise. With the sustainable sourcing of our raw materials, the assessment of our main suppliers in accordance with sustainability criteria and our involvement in international initiatives and partnerships for biodiversity and supply chain transparency, we as a global company have an effective lever for helping to achieve SDGs 14 and 15. Throughout the process, we also respect the working conditions of our employees, partners and suppliers in order to make a direct contribution to humane economic growth in accordance with SDG 8.
The core business of Symrise and its products are closely linked with sustainable production cycles, the efficient use of natural resources, environmentally compatible use of chemicals and waste minimization, thanks to avoidance, reduction, recycling and reuse. We and our partners have a direct impact on SDG 12 particularly in the product development phase. As a production company in a high-energy industry, we also have considerable responsibility and leverage when it comes to SDGs 8 and 13 and implementing humane working conditions, comprehensive climate protection measures and concrete reductions in CO2 at our production facilities and sites around the world.
Knowledge transfer and synergies between the company, suppliers, political institutions, actors from civil society and local partners form the basis of the business activities of Symrise and thus all of our operations.
The central concern of Symrise is to meet basic human needs for health, nutrition and well-being. Due to our sustainable product solutions in line with SDGs 12 and 13 (see previous stage of the value chain), we thus have the responsibility and potential influence – at our own sites and beyond – on future consumption patterns and behaviors of our customers and consumers.
“Establishing responsible and transparent traceable supply chains is an important basis for our business. In the process, we focus on our human rights obligations to our employees and partners worldwide – in line with the global sustainability objectives SDG 8, humane work and economic growth – in addition to our resource-efficient and resource-friendly approach to nature. Beyond our voluntary commitment, we are actively supporting a legal basis in the form of a supply chain act and welcome recent policy developments on the subject.”
Dr. Helmut Frieden,
Natural raw materials often form the basis of our products – and our long-term business success. When it comes to sourcing, we rely on an environment rich in biodiversity as well as the collaboration and trust of local communities and small-scale farmers. This is closely linked to respecting human rights and ensuring humane working conditions and rights for all our direct and indirect employees – with a special focus on vulnerable groups on site such as women and their families or disabled people. Symrise is expressly committed to respecting these rights: see our position paper on human rights and ethical sourcing and the declaration on human trafficking and slavery. Our suppliers must sign a code of conduct for this purpose, which includes factors such as human rights, the environment, health and safety, and integrity, in addition to transparent disclosures on the source of raw materials. As a member of SEDEX, we are able to evaluate the performance of our key suppliers according to these factors and additional ethical criteria. By 2025, we have set goals of sourcing all strategic biological raw materials from sources that are sustainably produced in this sense.
Innovation is a core competence of our business. Every day, our employees and partners around the world create the basis for new, sustainably successful products and consumption patterns through the productive use of environmentally friendly chemistry and new technologies, as well as resource-efficient manufacturing. The Product Sustainability Scorecard illustrates this progress. Diversity in our teams, equal treatment and equal participation of our employees are a matter of course for us – for example, through gender-independent remuneration. The integrated management system of our HR policy is based on the requirements of the Group-wide binding Social Accountability 8000 (SA 8000) standard, which is based on the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In order to exemplify equal opportunities in a prominent position, we set the goal of increasing the proportion of women at the first global management level below the Executive Board to at least 30 % by 2025, and at the second global management level to at least 45 %. The long-term goal is also to achieve a 20 % share of women on the Executive Board.
We respond responsibly and effectively to trends such as our customersʼ and consumersʼ desire for natural, nutritious ingredients and products manufactured under fair conditions through our product solutions – and thus make a decisive contribution to more sustainable consumption patterns. Through Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines, independent testing and certification, we also ensure the highest product safety and quality standards for customers and consumers.
Symrise is involved in the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains (INA) and in July 2020 issued a joint statement in favor of the German government drafting a national supply chain act based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP). In the alliance, a total of 33 companies and organizations are campaigning for binding human rights due diligence requirements for companies along their supply chains – and thus for greater legal certainty and a level playing field that goes beyond voluntary initiatives. The initiative was founded in 2018 on the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is run by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).
The basis of our products are natural raw materials. For their sourcing, an environment rich in species is just as important as a trusting relationship with local communities and small-scale farmers – this is particularly evident in times of crisis. We promote both in cooperation with nonprofit organizations and through close exchange with our partners and local communities.
The coronavirus pandemic has put global supply chains to the test and made us aware of the importance of resilience and crisis security. Capital management company Union Investment recognized this relevance early on. “We are always interested in long-term investments. In this respect, Symrise is the right choice for us,” explains Arne Rautenberg, portfolio manager for equities at Union Investment. When it comes to investment decisions, the three factors of environmental, social and responsible corporate governance (ESG) are playing an increasingly important role.
At Symrise, sourcing is central – the supply chain is where the main ESG footprint lies.
Rautenberg expects ESG factors to continue to grow in importance in the future. “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic reinforces this trend,” says Rautenberg. The pandemic accelerated trends such as digitalization or responsible consumption and underscored the importance of crisis-proof supply chains. Symrise is also placing an important focus on improving conditions in raw material sourcing. “In the future, the company wants to analyze 100 % of its suppliers according to sustainability criteria. We welcome this goal.” Nevertheless, Rautenberg sees a need for further action: “We would like Symrise to make even greater use of its good partnerships with suppliers to improve their sustainability performance.” After all, dialogue and joint efforts could lead to long-term improvements that benefit all sides.
In 2018, Symrise became the first flavor and fragrance company to become a global member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT). The nonprofit organization promotes sourcing that treats people and biodiversity with respect. Together with UEBT, Symrise works to make its supply chain environmentally and socially sustainable.
Consumer demand for natural raw materials is growing – but biodiversity loss is affecting their availability. Long-term and transparent partnerships with suppliers are crucial. The activities of Symrise in Madagascar are a good example: Combining research with close relationships with local people, the company is working to improve conditions in vanilla cultivation. Such initiatives are important, even if they require time, resources and a strong commitment from management.
The social and environmental conditions in supply chains are directly linked – people are part of biodiversity! At UEBT, we work with our members to preserve and regenerate nature through the ethical sourcing of natural ingredients, ensuring a better future for us humans. This includes fair prices for local suppliers, respect for human rights, support for local development and working conditions along the supply chain. This holistic approach is central to addressing the challenges.
In light of the biodiversity crisis, more needs to be done faster – and Symrise is no exception. More attention needs to be paid to biodiversity, regenerative practices and living wages and incomes in the myriad supply chains around the world. We are pleased to support Symrise on this journey.
We have explicitly integrated sustainability aspects in the development of our products and in our manufacturing processes – from climate-friendly production and the environmentally compatible use of chemicals to resource efficiency and low waste volumes to the reuse of co-products and new packaging alternatives. To achieve this, Symrise employees are applying innovative approaches to solutions and continuously developing them further.
Alongside oil and bananas, shrimp are one of Ecuadorʼs most important export products. Since some buyers want the shrimp without the head and shell, the animals are peeled directly after being caught in the factories on site. This results in over five tons of shrimp waste each month. “These waste materials were a big problem for the industry until a few years ago,” says Hiroshi Ozeki, head of the Business Unit Aqua for the Latin and North America regions. “It frequently ended up on surrounding fields.” An environmentally friendly solution was needed.
“We saw these catch leftovers as more of an opportunity than a problem,” says Ozeki. The shrimp heads are particularly rich in nutrients. The experts in the Business Unit Aqua thus developed a process to produce a high-quality ingredient for fish feed from the shrimp waste. The result: the nutritious powder Actipal HP 1. It maintains the health of fish, has a long shelf life and is easy to transport – ideal for the needs of fish feed producers.
Especially in commercial farming, Actipal HP 1 has clear benefits: Due to its high nutritional value, fish farmers need fewer wild fish as feed. The ingredient in the feed pellets attracts the animals and they ingest the feed before it can sink to the bottom and become an environmental burden. Hiroshi Ozeki is convinced: “With Actipal HP 1, we are helping to make commercial fish farming more sustainable in the long term.”
With Actipal HP 1, we are helping to make commercial fish farming more sustainable in the long term.
At the supermarket, an increasing number of people are avoiding milk these days and reaching for alternative plant-based products. There are multiple reasons for this: “For about ten years now, awareness of healthy eating has been growing in Western countries,” explains Renaud Allaire, the Global Account Director at Symrise. At the same time, awareness for animal welfare has also increased. “And as a third point, concern has been growing for several years about the impact of livestock farming on global warming,” says Allaire.
To achieve a higher acceptance of plant-based milk alternatives in the broader population the taste must be just right. “I often hear the prejudice that plant-based milk alternatives don’t taste good. That is completely incorrect. Many people in Europe and the USA like almond milk, as well as drinks made from nuts or cereals,” says Allaire. In the Asia/Pacific region rice drinks are very popular.
In addition to the interaction between flavor and source material, Symrise can also influence the perception of the product in the mouth – by blocking receptors of unwanted taste tones. We have also succeeded in applying this process to neuroreceptors in the brain that influence the intensity of taste experiences. “This is, so to speak, the magic of our industry,” says Allaire. The goal is it to impress not only vegans but also flexitarians when it comes to plant-based alternatives. The perfect flavor alone is not enough – what counts is the overall experience of a food. Moreover, the price must be reasonable and the supply chain sustainable.
For the past decade or so, awareness of healthy eating has been growing in Western countries.
The exchange with our customers and consumers is central for us. Global trend studies and surveys help us to know and understand consumer needs and design our products accordingly. In collaboration with our customers, we work on supply chain improvements and more sustainable products – and evolve together.
The pandemic has been a wake-up call: Interventions with those communities in our value chain that were already at risk are just as necessary now as they were before.
Long and stable business relationships can bring about lasting changes throughout the supply chain. This is proven by the cooperation between Symrise and its customer Mars.
In 2017, Mars launched the Shubh Mint program to improve the conditions of mint farmers in Uttar Pradesh, India. Alongside many other organizations, including the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Symrise is also part of the project. “Only by working closely with partners like Symrise can we address supply chain challenges to make a real difference by mobilizing and scaling financial resources and support,” says Jeremy Schifeling. As a result, the public-private partnership has enabled € 4.5 million in programmatic investments.
The program focuses on reducing the water footprint in the growing areas and increasing yields and thus farmersʼ incomes. “We also work closely with women in Uttar Pradesh to build their confidence through financial literacy. These women, who have been empowered and gained confidence, can thus make informed decisions for their familyʼs livelihood,” explains Meenal Bahirwani, Sustainable Sourcing Manager at Mars Wrigley in India. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic created new challenges for the team led by Shubh Mint. “We were no longer able to conduct face-to-face trainings,” says Schifeling. “But we responded quickly and developed solutions to give farmers the support they needed.” So WhatsApp videos, phone calls and text messages became the new normal.
We share common values – for example, our mutual commitment to the SDGs. With the same goals in mind, we can make bigger impact for the entire industry.
To identify developments early on and properly understand consumers, we regularly conduct tastings, surveys and trend studies. Based on the results, we follow a standardized process: Product development is adjusted accordingly and new, needs-oriented solutions are developed.
We were able to identify three core drivers that are particularly important to consumers: taste, price and brand. But sustainability aspects are also significant when it comes to the popularity of a product. However, how important these are rated depends heavily on the product category, the market and the individual consumer. In the future, the sustainability component will probably move from the niche into the mainstream – if it tastes good and the price is right.
Changing consumption patterns can already be observed. Many people have a need for safety and health right now. This drives the trend toward increased consumption of regional products, alternative proteins and natural foods.
Symrise uses the international standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for reporting on its non-financial and sustainability-related performance.Read more >
In our sustainability reporting, we comply with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) from the version GRI Standards (2016), including the most recent updates from 2018, 2019 and 2020.Read more >
Symrise takes a systematic approach to sustainability. Based on our materiality analysis, we regularly identify key issues that are important for our business and in relation to our impact on the environment, society and our stakeholders.Read more >