5 Questions with: Paco Miñano, Purchasing Manager at Iberchem
Could you tell us a little bit about the day-to-day of the purchasing department?
In a nutshell, our job is to source all the raw materials necessary to produce our fragrances at the best price possible and in a timely manner. We also have to make sure that all products meet the quality standards established by the company. Each raw material has its own particularities (origins, transport, legislation, etc.), so these procedures may vary from one raw material to another.
Given the wide range of products that we use, there is a long learning process. It is important to know the characteristics of each raw material. We also need to consider the pros and cons of each possible supplier. Although most of this information is computerised, in the end we are the ones making the final decision based on the information we have available to us. One misstep can have a huge impact on the rest of the value chain.
Has the pandemic had any impact on your work?
Yes, it has. The first consequences came from China, where we source many of our products. In Q2 of 2020, we experienced some delays with the production and the shipping of these raw materials. A few weeks later, the same thing happened with India, another important raw material producer and exporter.
Something else that changed is our relation with our suppliers. As visits are limited or even forbidden, everything must be done by videoconference. Translating the olfactive characteristics of a product is not always easy in those circumstances. Still, I think this is something that will remain for a while. Many of us have realised that travelling is not always necessary – which not only saves us time, but also lowers our carbon footprint.
What is the most memorable moment in your career at Iberchem so far?
In 2004, we moved our production facilities to a new location (the actual production site of Iberchem in Spain). We made considerable changes to our IT system and all our operations were automated. It definitely required a lot of perseverance and extra effort from all employees as it completely changed the way we work. It was almost like working for a new company.
In your opinion, what is the future of raw materials? Are there any trends or challenges we should know about?
The first thing that comes to mind for me would be sustainability. In the world of natural ingredients, we see an increasing offer for everything that is ‘eco’ and ‘bio’. Those are usually obtained from farming methods that are free from fertilisers or pesticides, for example. The magic of biotechnology is also something people talk about a lot. For instance, by using white biotechnology, you can now make a molecule that smells like sandalwood from fermented sugar.
What impact is the increasing consumer demand for sustainability having on the fragrance sector?
The perfume and cosmetic industries are constantly investing in R&D. Given their impact on consumers and their dependence on nature, both are very attentive to how their activity may affect the environment and society in general. Iberchem is no exception. This is why we are looking to strengthen our relationships with those suppliers who share our engagement with sustainability.
It is becoming more and more obvious that sustainability is not just a trend. Those who still haven’t started to integrate it into their business model should definitely start looking into the long-term benefits of sustainable business models.