Foodie fragrances: bridging the gap between gastronomy and cosmetics

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Gourmand scent notes are trending and fragrance companies are now launching edible scents (Image: Getty)
Gourmand scent notes are trending and fragrance companies are now launching edible scents (Image: Getty)

Related tags Perfume Cosmetics Fragrance Givaudan Trend Dsm firmenich Sustainability

We explore the ever-growing popularity of gourmand fragrances, some of the most exciting innovations in this space – such as edible scents – and the science and technology being used in this sector.

According to US based trend tracker, Spate, the ‘foodie fragrance’ trend receives 2.7k average monthly searches, which is up by 139.6% year on year for the same period. 

It shared that pistachio is currently trending with ‘medium competition’ for this trend term.

There was one market leader: Kayali. The fragrance brand, which was founded by Mona Kattan (sister of makeup artist/entrepreneur Huda Kattan), is renowned for creating foodie fragrances including Kayali Yum Pistachio Gelato, which features notes of pistachio, hazelnut, honey, rose, whipped cream, marshmallow and sandalwood.  

Some of the top searches around pistachio included: ‘Pistachio brulee perfume’; ‘Kayali pistachio perfume’; ‘Pistachio and salted caramel perfume’; and ‘Kayali pistachio gelato perfume’.

Similarly, Sol de Janeiro’s​ Brazilian Crush Cheirosa 62 features a blend of pistachio and salted caramel, and this is a another favourite for younger consumers.

The gourmand trend is still growing…

Spate also noted that searches for ‘Gourmand fragrances’ are also up by 58.3% year-on-year.

When we spoke to Givaudan perfumer Christine Hassan​ last summer, she highlighted the foodie fragrance trend that was continuing to build momentum. At this time, there was a big focus on strawberry. “We know through our consumer testing that strawberry is one of the most appealing fine fragrance ingredients, for consumers across ages and countries – for many, it's considered a happy and delightful scent,” she explained.

The Swiss fragrance house even offers an upcycled and biodegradable ingredient called Strawberry Alcoholate Orpur, which is made from strawberry juice concentration production.

A recent report​ from the influencer agency Kyra also shows that the gourmand trend isn’t going anywhere right now. The business quizzed 1,000 18 – 25-year-olds in the UK and the US on their top 10 favourite scents and most of these were foodie notes.

Vanilla came out top, followed (in order of ranking) by rose, fruit, lavender, jasmine, citrus, musk, orange blossom, berries and, peaches – many of which are also classed as gourmand scents.

The rise of edible scents

At the opening show of the IFSCC​ (International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists) conference, which was held in Barcelona in September 2023, top Spanish chefs from Michelin-starred restaurant Disfrutar took to the stage in front of an audience of global formulators and experts.  

The innovative Barcelona-based restaurant explores new food textures and alternative methods of creating food with an approach that’s reminiscent of perfumers, skin care and colour cosmetics formulators in a cosmetics lab. Their foodie creations used bright colours and innovative new textures in a bid so show the increasing sensorial focus in the beauty industry and particularly the link between beauty and food.

One supplier that has recently brought this concept to life is Scentmate by dsm-firmenich. The ‘digital-first’ fragrance house from the Dutch-Swiss ingredients producer has just launched two edible and biodegradable scents. El Pinar and Medianías de las Islas. The scents were created in collaboration with top Argentinian chef Diego Schattenhofer – a guru of Tenerife cuisine.

The fragrances are inspired by the landscapes of the Canary Island and have been created using Emotions technology, which the company said is a “scientifically proven technology” that “makes it possible to formulate fragrances associated with energy, happiness and relaxation.”

One of the edible scents, El Pinar de Tenerife, is designed to smell like a pine forest, while Scentmate by dsm-firmenich said the second Medianías de las Islas “embraces the aromatic variety of Tenerife's fauna and flora, as well as the crops of potatoes, chestnut trees, fruit trees and cereals.”

A “global model for verbalisation of emotional feelings”

“In today’s world, consumers are overwhelmed by different emotions and trying to balance their life,” said digital marketing & communication specialist of Scentmate by dsm-firmenich Natàlia Möller. “As brands evolve to deliver wellness, fragrance is the ideal vehicle to impart the nuanced emotional benefits consumers are growing to expect.”

The company said the innovative Emotions technology helps it design fragrances that trigger specific feelings linked to certain emotions: energy, happiness, and relaxation, through a study carried out with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and a patented process of verbalisation of emotions.

This technology is the result of 25 years of research by dsm-firmenich together with scientific partners and universities evaluating the response of the human brain to different smells and establishing a link between these and the feelings generated. This process has been scientifically validated through tests that have demonstrated the effectiveness of fragrances created with Emotions in generating emotions and improving mood.

Möller said that bridging the gap between gastronomy and fragrances was a challenge that involved “careful selection and balancing perfumery ingredients to give texture, appetising emotion, and innovation to new fragrances that could express the taste of the island.”

The perfumers’ process was “mainly based on transposing taste to smell, based on retro-olfaction, molecular volatility, and their own expert interpretations of the ingredients and their perception,” she explained.

The technology makes it possible to design scents that elicit specific feelings. It’s based on neuroscientific research, which assesses the human brain’s response to a series of fragrances and is then combined with Scentmate by dsm-firmenich’s own consumer insights, which helps the fragrance house “create meaningful emotional stories through scent.”

“Through long-term collaboration with academic research partners, dsm-firmenich has developed a global model for verbalisation of emotional feelings elicited by fragrances,” said Möller. “This method can allow us to make a claim on the fragrance by performing a consumer test on a scent using this technology. From the consumer test, we can confirm that participants associated the fragrance with feelings of certain emotions based on a FMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) proven testing method.”

“FMRI measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood pressure flow and may measure any cognitive/affective automatic or voluntary process depending on the task of the participants,” she continued.

“The brain activation patterns in participants were studied while they were presented with smells covering the spectrum of distinct emotional categories, as defined by the dsm-firmenich patented process. This means, that the implicitly elicited emotional reaction to odours (MRI) with an a-posteriori explicit verbal scale was evaluated,” Möller explained.

“When there was a correspondence between neurological activity and verbalisation, a link between Emotions Technology and the feelings was established.”

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