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Flavours & fragrances

Two of the world’s three top flavor and fragrance companies were established in Geneva in the 19th century. Firmenich was founded here in 1895 and has been a family-owned company ever since. Givaudan moved to Geneva in 1898 from its birthplace in Zurich, according to company legend, because the local baker complained that his bread tasted of violets. Both have chosen to stay in Geneva, seeing it as the ideal location for this R&D-intense sector, as well as the perfect base for international operations. Both companies cite the highly educated workforce and overall advantages as reasons for their loyalty to Geneva.

Firmenich, for example, has invested around 25 million US dollars in its Food and Flavor Expertise Center, a state-of-the-art laboratory where researchers collaborate on applied research, product development, sensory analysis and marketing. With over 1,700 employees representing 40 different nationalities at its headquarters, Firmenich is in the top of corporate employers in Geneva.

A base in Geneva also offers Firmenich and Givaudan privileged access to their best customers: the world's number one multinational manufacturers of beauty, household and fabric-care products, pharmaceuticals, food and drinks. Being located close to clients such as Geneva-based Procter & Gamble, Elisabeth Arden, Shiseido and Coty allows for ongoing consultation as well as close business relationships.

Key facts about the two leading flavors and fragrances companies based in Geneva:


  • Private and family-owned
  • 7.5% average yearly growth per year since 1989
  • Around 14% of world market share
  • World number 3 in fragrances and flavors
  • 6,000 employees worldwide
  • Global presence in 64 countries
  • 45 operations worldwide with 26 manufacturing sites
  • 35 awards and distinctions received for achievements in R&D since 1939, including a Nobel Prize
  • Over 1,850 patents in force
  • Around 10% of annual turnover invested in R&D


  • Listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange since June 2000 and one of the country's 30 largest companies in market capitalization
  • CHF 336 million invested in R&D in 2010
  • CHF 3.9 billion in sales in 2011
  • Around 25% of world market share
  • 8,900 employees worldwide
  • Global presence in all major markets and a network of 82 sites in mature and developing regionsSubsidiaries in 45 countries
  • Patents on new molecules, delivery systems and application technologies, all of which significantly increase the performance of its products