When I told our chemical research director, Peter Gradeff, that I intended to give a talk at the American Society of Perfumers’ Symposium, his first comment was rather blunt: “Do you really believe that perfumers would appreciate a lecture in chemistry?” My answer was simple: “Perfumers do buy our research on aroma chemicals. It is essential that we—chemists, engineers—tell them what we are doing and what we can do for their industry.”
The aroma chemical industry has undergone some fundamental transformations in the last twenty-five years. Of course, these changes have affected the direction of our research and have imposed new requirements in the choice of our new processes.
1. Until the late 1950s most aroma chemicals were derived from essential oils. The demand for larger quantities of these products at lower prices has compelled the industry to search for more abundant and cheaper raw materials. Most aroma chemicals are now made from acetylene, isoprene, acetone, phenol, and α- and β-pinenes. Any new processes should be based on readily available synthetic raw materials at a stable price.