No Surprise at Symrise: OU Certification is an Important Part of Business at one of the Leading Makers of Fragrances and Flavorings

Today’s consumers are increasingly demanding food that, in addition to tasting good, is also healthy and affordable. This poses a tremendous challenge to the food industry – a challenge that becomes still more sophisticated when kosher requirements are introduced into the equation.

Not only is Symrise one of the most important partners for food producers who can meet these challenges, the company is also the fourth largest producer of fragrances and flavorings in the world (sales). With sales of 1.32 billion Euros in 2008, Symrise continues to pursue its ongoing growth strategy. Clients of the company’s Flavor & Nutrition division include, among others, renowned producers of sweets, dairy products, beverages and convenience foods. The Symrise Scent & Care division produces raw materials and active ingredients for the fragrances and cosmetics industry.

The company is headquartered in Holzminden, Germany, a city that expresses its connection to Symrise through its nickname: “City of Fragrances and Flavorings.” Symrise currently has a presence in over 35 countries worldwide and employs more than 5,000 people. The company was established in 2003 through the merger of Dragoco Gerberding & Co. AG and Haarmann & Reimer GmbH, and became a publicly traded company in December 2006.

Producing kosher products has long had an important role to play at Symrise, where OU Kosher Rabbis Nosson Neuberger and Avrohom Schwartz provide the company with consulting services. Roughly 2,300 certified kosher products were made in Holzminden last year, 300 of which were produced with onsite supervision of an OU rabbinic field representative. These products, the lion’s share of which were made by the Flavor & Nutrition division, are primarily sold in the U.S. and Israel.

“OU certification means more to us and to our clients than simply an indication that our products are acceptable to a particular religious group,” says Norbert Kahmann, one of those who oversees kosher production at Symrise. “Certification serves as an important quality indicator for premium products.” According to Kahmann, many vegans and people who are lactose intolerant often turn to kosher products. The Kosher Coordinator is part of the Kosher Team with members from the departments Regulatory Affairs, Supply Chain and Sales that organizes kosher production. The Kosher Team also is in charge for a regular training for all employees in the supply chain. “Kosher production is part of our day-to-day business,” says Kahmann, “and is a highly integral part of all of our production processes.”

New Symrise products are generally submitted to the OU for certification, which reviews raw materials, their sources, and individual production steps. Norbert Kahmann recently worked with the Symrise Kosher Team to produce a production calendar as a way to make kosher production more efficient. Buyers can then use this calendar to see exactly when production will take place. The reason for this is that kosher production is set for certain times of the year, as it requires extensive cleaning and preparation. “We make the kosher calendar available to our clients so that they will know exactly when they can count on specific materials,” Kahmann explains. The significance of kosher products will be growing as time goes on, which is why Symrise is currently planning to have critical production sites in Madagascar and Brazil certified.

Rabbi Nosson Neuberger serves as Orthodox Union rabbinic coordinator for Symrise.

1. Rabbis Neuberger and Schwarz inspect a production facility at the Symrise plant in Holzminden, Germany.
2. A compounding machine for the Flavor & Liquid division that has been fine-tuned for kosher production.

OU Kosher Staff