Patchouli from Indonesia, neroli from Tunisia, jasmine from India: these precious ingredients are what European perfume brands have relied on for centuries to make their signature scents, but rising temperatures and droughts are affecting crops across the world, including those used by the perfume industry, putting its future at risk. Enter vertical farms.
French vertical farming company Jungle has paired up with Swiss fragrance house Firmenich, a privately owned fragrance company, to grow some of the plants it uses in vertical farms. It is the first collaboration between a perfume house and a vertical farm.
Using vertical farms means the conditions a plant is grown in can be controlled, mimicking the conditions typically found in hotter climates outside Europe. “When you have the controlled environment of the vertical farm, you can impact how plants are going to express themselves,” explains Dreyfus. “Through controlling the environment, we’re going to be able to express the smell in a stronger way.”
Vertical farms will also allow companies to include natural ingredients in perfumes which they could not before. Jungle has just managed to grow lily of the valley in its vertical farm to the north of Paris. “It’s a flower that flourishes for seven to ten days a year, once a year. Extracting takes two to three months, so you don’t have enough biomass to make the essential oil to create a natural compound of lily of the valley to use in perfume,” says Dreyfus. Perfumes have, therefore, only ever contained synthetic reconstructions of lily of the valley. In its vertical farm, Jungle can stagger the flourishing period of different plants, providing a flowering crop for a sustained period of time.
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