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Specialty Chemicals

Firmenich to buy French pine chemical firm

DRT brings sustainable fragrance ingredients and industrial additives

by Melody M. Bomgardner
March 11, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 10

A pine tree plantation in France is shown.
Credit: Shutterstock
Firmenich sees pine trees as a source of sustaiinable fragrance ingredients.

The Swiss flavor and fragrance giant Firmenich has agreed to acquire Les Dérivés Résiniques et Terpéniques (DRT) from family shareholders and the private equity firms Ardian and Tikehau Capital for an undisclosed sum. As its name suggests, DRT is French; it produces chemicals from pine trees.

DRT’s pine-derived substances include many terpenes used in fragrances. While some smell piney, others add citrus, floral, and fruit scents to perfumes and personal care and cleaning products. DRT also sells functional ingredients used in beverages and adhesives. It has annual sales of roughly $615 million and 1,500 employees in France, the US, India, and China.

The acquisition is the latest in a string of fragrance industry consolidations amid a demand shift away from synthetic ingredients toward those deemed kinder for health and the environment. Large fragrance houses have pursued a flurry of deals to boost their portfolios of plant-derived molecules.

Last year, Firmenich took a stake in the French natural ingredients firm Robertet while rival Givaudan bought the essential oil specialist Ungerer. And in 2018, International Flavors & Fragrances snapped up Frutarom after the Israeli firm went on its own tear of 39 smaller acquisitions, including many in the naturals segment.

“DRT would further strengthen our leading Perfumery & Ingredients business enabling us to offer our customers the world’s best palette of renewable and sustainable ingredients,” Firmenich CEO Gilbert Ghostine says in a statement.

DRT is not the only pine-chemical firm to be snapped up for its evergreen qualities. In 2015, Firmenich’s German rival Symrise bought Pinova, which had been formed from the pine chemical businesses of Ashland and LyondellBasell Industries.



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