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The Flavors & Fragrances Industry: More Than Good Scents and Great Tastes

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The flavors and fragrances industry (F&F) creates scents and tastes for use in a broad range of consumer products, including prepared foods, personal care and household products, fine fragrances, cosmetics, and beverages. Ingredients can be raw or synthetic.

This multi-billion-dollar industry impacts daily life for consumers worldwide, often on multiple fronts: From the toothpaste we use, to the coffee, tea, and milk we drink, to the deodorants and tissues we select…from ice cream to lipstick to fine wine and perfume, the F&F industry is subtly but extensively integrated into our daily lives. In fact, one market report estimates that consumers interact with F&F end-products on average 20 to 30 times per day.

The market for flavors and fragrances is thriving and rapidly expanding, thanks to a growing global population with rising disposable income—particularly in developing countries—as well as an increasing demand for goods such as processed foods and personal care items. A recent analysis valued the industry at $27.9 billion in 2018, and, calculating a year-over-year growth rate of 4 percent, projected the market to be worth $35.1 billion by 2024.

Key Market Drivers Include:

  • More health-conscious lifestyles
  • Growing demand for natural ingredients
  • Increased demand for processed foods
  • Increased focus on wellness and (good tasting) dietary supplements, and nutraceuticals
  • Increased product launch and growth in the cosmetic industry


The F&F industry is supported by a network of diverse, wide-ranging job sectors: information technology, law, marketing, manufacturing, and social media networking to name a few. This post deals specifically with the relevance and application of the life sciences to the F&F industry—particularly as the industry continues to shift and change to keep pace with consumer demand and market competition.

The nature and scope of life-sciences-based jobs extend far beyond positions directly related (and only related) to the development of new flavors and fragrances. Concentrations such as personal care science, drug discovery & development, global food technology & innovation, and sustainability are playing increasingly important roles in an industry where scents and tastes reign supreme.


The worldwide market is dominated by four major companies: Firmenich, International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), Givaudan, and Symrise. Collectively, the foursome controls up to 70 percent of the market share at any given time. All four of these companies have either worldwide or U.S headquarters located in New Jersey or New York City:

It is therefore not surprising that a 2013 industry study concluded that “New Jersey is home to the world’s leading flavor, fragrance, and ingredient manufacturers,” with more than 125 F&F-centered companies located in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.


The “Flavors & Fragrances” sector is not recognized as a distinct industry by the U.S. Department of Labor; it is instead listed under the massive umbrella of “manufacturing.” Accordingly, research software designed to track and assess labor demand for the “flavors and fragrance” industry pulls numbers that are very low.

We therefore used a combination of industry analyses and real-time market reports to determine F&F’s largest job sectors, and then employed analytics software called Burning Glass—a program that scans hundreds of millions of job postings each day—to evaluate current job demand within those sectors between August 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019. Our search criteria specified STEM-classified occupations that inferred and /or requested an education level of a bachelor’s degree or higher; we then ran reports both with and without the keywords “flavor” and “fragrance.”

When we added the keywords “flavor” and “fragrance” to search filters, Burning Glass displayed only 681 F&F jobs advertised nationwide. These jobs focused narrowly—and only—on development of flavors or fragrances and are highlighted in Chart A (below).

However, from market reports, industry analyses, and the wealth of F&F companies located in New Jersey alone, we know that there are many more jobs than the 681 positions pulled by Burning Glass. When we removed the keywords “flavor” and “fragrance” from our search filters, the number of nationally advertised jobs increased to 69,928.

While nearly all F&F jobs require a basic understanding of chemistry as related to flavors and fragrances, the majority of jobs are not so narrowly focused on developing flavors and fragrances. Additional job titles include “food technologist,” “quality control chemist,” and “applications technologist.” Further, many companies seek candidates with advanced knowledge of food technology and personal care science for positions in marketing, product development, food safety and regulatory roles.  Descriptions of F&F jobs with a broader focus can be found below.


According to both Burning Glass and industry reports, F&F’s primary customers are food manufacturers, dairy product manufacturers, beverage manufacturers, and manufacturers of personal care items and household products.

We employed Burning Glass analytics to determine job demand within these sectors, including common employers and common job titles; results are featured in Chart A. As previously mentioned, adding the keywords “flavor” and “fragrance” to our search terms yielded data for only those jobs that are narrowly and specifically focused on the development of flavors or fragrances. Job descriptions for such positions are provided later in this article.



Major F&F Sectors Nationwide

Common Employers Nationwide

Common Jobs Related to
F&F Development

Food Manufacturing

  • Givaudan
  • McCormick Company Incorporated
  • Tyson Foods Incorporated


Flavor Research Scientist 


Dairy Product Manufacturing

  • Firmenich
  • Mars Ice Cream
  • Land O’Lakes, Inc.


Food & Flavoring Toxicologist

Beverage Manufacturing

  • Coca-Cola Enterprises
  • Nestle USA Incorporated
  • Dr. Pepper Snapple Group





Soap, Clean Compound, and Toilet Preparation Manufacturing (includes cosmetics, personal care items, and household products)

  • IFF
  • L’Oreal USA
  • Estee Lauder Company


Creative Fragrance Manager



Grain and Oilseed Milling

  • General Mills
  • ADM (Archer Daniels Midland)






While personal care science and food science have obvious industry application, concentrations in sustainability , global agriculture and global food technology and innovation, and even drug discovery and development now play central roles.

Concentration-by-Concentration Industry Application:

With raw materials literally fueling the industry, sustainability efforts are now central to all F&F operations. Most companies produce specialized annual reports that detail sustainability and conservation efforts, as well as steps the company has taken to minimize their environmental footprint.

Food Science /Global Agriculture/Global Food Technology
In an industry that targets two of the five human senses, advanced knowledge of food science is invaluable. As global sustainability efforts increase, advanced knowledge of global agriculture and global food technology are also factoring into how flavors and fragrances are produced:

“The contributions of smallholder farmers [now] play a crucial role in the current and long-term health of our supply chain,” states one IFF sustainability report. “Through social investments, we are making a positive difference in the lives of the farmers and their surrounding communities, using sustainable agriculture, fair and safe working conditions and relationships with producers and local communities [and] actively pursuing food waste reduction initiatives with farmers and food manufacturers.”

Personal Care Science
The cosmetic and personal care industries are major F&F end-users, manipulating flavors and fragrances to improve sensory appeal and product value for consumers in a highly competitive market. Personal care science offers students multiple job opportunities and career paths, and job opportunities in the F&F industry are plentiful.

Drug Discovery & Development
For years, the F&F industry has helped make medicine taste better. “We provide the most effective flavor and masking solutions [that] making consumers' health care as tasty as possible,” states F&F company Symrise—producer of a proprietary product called SymMask®.

However, F&F companies are now catering to a skyrocketing consumer demand for wellness products such as nutraceuticals, which makes a concentration in drug discovery & development all that more valuable in the industry.


Specialized Skills

Specialized skills are job-specific skills that give candidates an edge to excel in certain positions. Some skills are learned through formal education or training; others can be acquired on the job. For the majority of F&F positions, a basic understanding of chemistry—in relation to developing flavors and fragrances—is essential. Therefore, chemistry is the most requested skill nationwide. Other commonly requested skills include:

  • Quality Assurance/Quality Control
  • Project Management
  • Product Development
  • Budgeting
  • SAP

Soft Skills

Soft skills, or “people skills,” relate to the way an individual communicates and interacts with others. In particular, LinkedIn’s annual update of The Skills Companies Need Most in 2019 – And How to Learn Them, notes:
“Strengthening a soft skill is one of the best investments you can make in your career,” adding that “the rise of AI is only making soft skills increasingly important, as they are precisely the type of skills robots can’t automate.”

The soft skills most requested in F&F job postings are as follows:

  • Teamwork/Collaboration
  • Research
  • Problem Solving
  • Planning
  • Organizational Skills
  • Written Communication
  • Creativity


To provide a sampling of industry positions, we extracted wording from various postings for F&F jobs related specifically to the development of flavors and fragrances, as well as F&F jobs with a broader focus.

Jobs with Specific Focus on F&F Formulation and Development (as referenced in Chart A).

Flavor Research Scientist
You will be responsible for developing natural flavors and taste modulation ingredients in line with corporate strategies and business targets; you will also develop globally accepted ingredients.

We are looking for a culinary/savory expert to lead the flavor creation culinary platform and drive sales in the culinary category through the original creation of innovative winning flavors, flavor base systems, process flavors and seasonings. 

Creative Fragrance Manager

You will contribute to the fragrance development process, working alongside account managers, perfumers, fragrance marketing, research and laboratory experts to identify winning fragrance directions and form a strong creative point of view. 

Jobs Outside of F&F Formulation and Development

Below are excerpts from jobs with a wider focus than the above jobs that relate directly to development of flavors & fragrances.

Research Investigator, Taste Modulation

You are a highly motivated and passionate research scientist with demonstrated expertise in natural products and food science research. You will be experienced in the development of natural taste modulation and clean label flavor ingredients. Your work will also support and coordinate the sourcing of raw materials and product evaluation and commercialization.

Scent Technology and Innovation Scientist
You will work with perfumers on the use of technical tools and models, and will investigate aromatic solutions that satisfy consumers’ needs in the fabric care category. You will help us exceed our customer’s technical expectations when introducing new products and formulations.

Toxicologist—Food and Aromatics

You will support the Taste Division in emerging business opportunities that require safety and regulatory expertise in nutraceuticals, dietary supplements, food additives, etc. You will work closely with Flavors R&D, will represent the company in industry science or regulatory groups, and will become an internal expert in Toxicology and Ingredient Safety Assessment.

Regulatory Data Compliance Specialist - Perfumery and/or Flavor Division

You will provide best-in-class support to the Perfumery and/or Flavor Division and other GRS teams on regulatory aspects. You will identify and communicate the impact of regulatory changes, and will contribute to the improvement of processes and best practices related to data management.

If you are interested in learning more about the F&F industry or personal care industry, Rutgers offers the following core courses:

Course #

Course Title




Fragrance Applications in Personal Care Science (3 credits) 


Advanced Food Sensory Science


Fundamentals of Personal Care Science (3 credits) 


Additional courses include:

Course #

Course Title




Food Business Innovation (3 credits) 


Current Regulation and Standards for Foods and Cosmetics in Domestic and International Trade (3 credits) 


Global Food Supply and Quality Management (3 credits) 


Fundamentals of Food Technology and Safety (4 credits)


Product Development & Formulations for Personal Care Science (3 credits) 


Data in this blog was collected by researching current market data, and by using a tool called Labor Insight from Burning Glass Technologies, which scans millions of job postings each day to analyze data regarding positions advertised between August 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019. By mining the detailed information stored in job postings, we can determine what employers are looking for when they fill roles in the sector.

While this analysis can show trends in the job market, there are limitations—among them is the fact that the United States Department of Labor does not separate, categorize, or recognize “flavor and fragrance” and/or “personal care” as official and individual job sectors. Instead, these industries are placed under the larger, more general umbrella of “manufacturing.”

Finally, the unstructured nature of job ads can make it difficult for the system to identify individual pieces of information effectively in some cases. While Labor Insight breaks up the job description into fields for analysis, inconsistency in the formatting of job descriptions and industry-specific terminology or titles may result in the inclusion of some irrelevant jobs.

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