Featured Perspectives: Robertet’s Joe Fusco on Sourcing Natural Fragrance Ingredients

Featured Perspectives: Robertet’s Joe Fusco on Sourcing Natural Fragrance Ingredients

For us, fragrance isn't just something you spray. It’s a source of confidence, a comforting nostalgia, a bottled memory, an extension of oneself, a life’s work. Behind the scenes, there’s a long chain of people involved in the creation of your fragrance.
We want you to meet them.
In this series, we’re collaborating with experts in the fragrance industry. You’ll hear from the Makers of your favorite Commodity fragrances, tastemakers from our partner perfume houses and representatives from well-known retailers. They’ll share advice and expertise to simplify your fragrance experience, or shed light on their topics of specialty.
This is a space for you to get more out of your fragrance journey, to become well versed in the world of fragrance.
This is a unique platform for discovery.
This is Featured Perspectives.
If the Robertet Group sounds familiar, it should. We recently interviewed Zoe Freedberg of Robertet, who pulled back the industry curtain on synthetic vs. natural ingredients.
The world leader in natural aromatic raw materials, Robertet sources plant ingredients and turns them into natural extracts. With Zoe we discussed ingredients, but now we’re taking it back one step farther… 
Robertet’s Senior Purchasing Manager Joe Fusco is directly involved in choosing, securing and evaluating raw materials before they become fragrance ingredients.
If anyone knows ingredients, it’s Robertet. But if anyone knows ingredient procurement, it’s Joe.
What’s the process for sourcing raw materials? 
The process begins with in-depth research into the material. It’s important to learn the correct Latin Botanical Name and variety, geographic region of growing, and commercial availability of the specific quality we’re sourcing.
Are there certain parts of the world where ingredients grow better than others?
Yes, the location of harvest depends on the botanical in question. Climate plays a key role in plant growth due to varying temperatures, hours of sun exposure and precipitation. For example, Lavender performs well in high altitudes of warm and moderately arid climates, with sunny summers and mild winters. The plants require a specific amount of precipitation to produce an ideal amount of essential oil. These climate requirements have caused the Provence region of France to become the most popular location in the world for growing the highest quality Lavender. 
After pinpointing the location for the best raw materials, what comes next?
The Rose harvest in both Bulgaria and Turkey provides a great example of a typical botanical ingredient supply chain. The harvest occurs each May over a three-week period. The flowers are hand-picked at dawn when the essential oil content is at its highest level. The raw materials are collected and transferred to our manufacturing facility, where they’re processed via either steam distillation to produce an essential oil or solvent extraction to produce concrete and absolute.
How do you ensure natural ingredients smell the same, year after year?
Natural variation in the quality of an ingredient from one crop to another can make it difficult to ensure olfactive consistency. The variation is mainly due to changing weather patterns, but our perfumers are trained to work with the complexities of these materials and create formulas that smell consistent.
Do these ingredients expire?
Yes, ingredients do expire. The shelf life depends heavily on the chemical makeup of the product. We perform extensive stability testing on each raw material to assess and assign a proper shelf life.
How does Robertet ensure that materials are collected sustainably and responsibly?
There are domestic and international laws regarding sustainable and responsible sourcing. We also require our ingredient partners and manufacturers to sign our Ethics Charter, which encompasses Child Labor, Forced Labor, Equal Opportunities and proper working conditions.
How does Robertet ensure ingredients are cruelty free? 
The vast majority (≈ 99.5%) of the ingredients that our perfumers work with are vegan and cruelty free. 
The remaining .5% are byproducts of animals, like honey, that are not vegan, but are still cruelty free. Ultimately the company chooses with which ingredients they’d like to proceed (vegan or not), and in the case of Commodity, we only provide ingredients that are both vegan and cruelty free.  
Is there anything else you think fragrance consumers should know in regards to ingredients, notes, etc.?
I think it’s important to understand the true global nature of the fragrance industry. The ingredients in each bottle of fragrance are both grown and manufactured all over the world. Robertet currently sources roughly 1,400 natural ingredients from 60 different countries. Each fragrance we produce is truly a collection of the hard work and dedication of thousands of farmers, manufacturers and perfumers.

Have a topic that you’d like to hear more about? We probably have the perfect person. Tell us what Featured Perspective you’d like to hear next in the comments!

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