Lightyears Collection
(International Flavors & Fragrances)

IFF — International Flavors & Fragrances — was founded in 1958. With each new corporate acquisition, IFF traces its roots back further in time. While an early company history would start around 1920, today — thanks to the 2000 acquisition of Bush Boake Allen — "IFF" history now begins in 1833, the year Stafford Allen and Charles May launched the Stafford Allen company, the "Allen" in Bush Boake Allen.

IFF History — Chapter One

The man behind the creation of IFF was Arnold Louis van Ameringen, a Dutchman who began his career by working as a salesman/agent for the Dutch fragrance manufacturer, Polka-Schwarz. In 1917 Polka-Schwarz sent van Ameringen to New York to represent their (mostly) flavor products in the American market. Van Ameringen, however, ran afoul with his employers and was fired. The story has it that he aspired to "Americanize" the U.S. operation by introducing profit sharing, a plan that was not well received back in Holland.

Van Ameringen, now on his own, used his connections to open his own fragrance and flavor supply business in 1918 in, as company histories like to point out, just 500 square feet of office space. Within a few years, van Ameringen had merged his new business with Morana, Inc., a related enterprise which had been founded in 1909.

During the 1920's, van Ameringen found great success by selling fragrance to American soap manufacturers. Although soap and perfume had been closely related since the beginning of the 19th century (Guerlain in France, Brocard in Russia, Colgate in the United States), tremendous opportunities still existed in the U.S. market and van Ameringen took advantage of them.

In 1929, van Ameringen formed a partnership with Dr. William T. Haebler and together they acquired an aromatic chemical plant in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Their company became van Ameringen-Haebler, Inc.

From 1929 until 1958, van Ameringen-Haebler continued to expand, surviving the depression and the World War which followed and caused restrictions on the availability of fragrance materials. By 1958, 90 percent of the company's business volume was in the sale of fragrance.

While van Ameringen's fortunes had been on the rise, Polak & Schwarz had suffered a serious decline. Import restrictions in the U.S. had choked off Polak & Schwarz sales in the U.S. The depression had hurt them in number of countries. Then, with the German invasion and occupation of Holland and bans on Jewish ownership and management of companies — combined with the loss of young men drafted into Hitler's workforce — Polak & Schwarz was seriously weakened.

In 1958, after negotiations with the man they had fired in 1917, Polak & Schwarz joined forced with van Ameringen-Huebler. The combined operation took the name "International Flavors & Fragrances" — IFF.

By 1964 IFF had obtained a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bush Boake Allen

In 2000, IFF acquired Bush Boake Allen, then the seventh largest international flavors and fragrance house. With this acquisition, IFF became the world's largest flavors and fragrance business and now IFF was able to trace "its" roots back to 1833, the year Stafford Allen was founded.

The business of IFF

IFF, its "root" companies and smaller acquisitions and divisions (of which there are many!) are in the business of providing flavoring material (the "perfume" in processed food and pharmaceuticals) and "fragrances", the smells that go into such functional products as toilet paper, garbage bags and household cleansers as well as fine fragrances such as "Flower Bomb," IFF's highly successful creation for Viktor & Rolf / L'Oreal.

It has been written that Estee Lauder's "Youth Dew" (1953) was created for her by IFF as a result of her friendship with van Amerigen, who also arranged for her a generous line of credit when her young company had few assets to support it. Other notable IFF customers have included Revlon, Proctor & Gamble and General Mills.

International business

Today while IFF is based in New York, about 70 percent of it's business comes from outside the United States. Since the 19th century, the component companies that now make up IFF have had divisions and subsidiaries in 30 or more countries around the world.

IFF has long pursued a policy of hiring local talent almost exclusively in the countries in which it operates. In 1966 IFF could boast that, in all its foreign plants, only four Americans were employed. Today, it is said, this policy has given IFF a greater degree of feedback from local markets than it might have had otherwise. Today IFF's greatest growth market is India.


On October 23, 2006, IFF announced that it would split its business into separate units for flavors and fragrances with newly appointed presidents for both. Robert Amen, IFF CEO, named Nicolas Mirzayantz to the presidency of the fragrance unit and Hernan Vaisman, president of flavors.

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  • Debi Monicatti, 04/05/2021. I have a box of the
    Maple Flavoring tablets that my dad said he brought back from the Navy after WWII. That was the only maple syrup we ever had in our house while I was growing up. Is the company still making these tablets?

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  • Denise Woodley, 03/18/2019. Thank you for your article! It allowed me to narrow down the age of my Alvatabs imitation maple flavoring tablets to 1929-1958. The box is very old, and the unused tablets still intact! I remember Mom making maple syrup with these tablets at a time when buying syrup was too costly. Since it bears the company name Van Ameringen-Haebler, Inc. I was able to glean from your article the time period it was manufactured. I am interested in knowing how many of these type items are still around?

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