by Peter Greenhalgh


In the summer of 1976, about 2,000 drums of various “essential oils” from Indonesia, valued at several million dollars, arrived at ports in Northern Europe, the USA and Taiwan filled with muddy water with a hint of oil on top. This well-planned and orchestrated fraud eventually led to the foundation of the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades (IFEAT). Many well-known importers from the USA, UK, Netherlands and Germany were affected by this scam – but the initiative for IFEAT’s formation came from the UK, which at that time was probably the second largest importer of essential oils after the USA. The telephones and telexes were hot with discussions about how to re-coup the losses and how to avoid such incidents in the future. Ronald V Neal, Managing Director of Fuerst Day Lawson of London flew to the USA in August for discussion with various US organisations, including the need for an international organisation to represent the in terests of the essential oils trade. On 18th April 1977 seven members of the UK essential oils trade attended a meeting in London, chaired by M P Murray-Pearce of Cosmetics World News. A majority favoured the immediate formal establishment of an association (with the suggested name of “The International Federation of Essential Oils and Allied Trades”) and opening it to worldwide membership as soon as it had a legal entity as a non-profit company, limited by guarantee. Interim officers were elected, namely joint chairmen (Neal and Wells), secretary and treasurer (Murray-Pearce) and a Steering Committee established comprising the seven present along with three who had sent apologies. The companies were Biddle Sawyer, Blythe Greene Jordan, Cosmetic World News, De Monchy, Fuerst Day Lawson, Hamburger, R C Treatt, A E Wells and Zimmerman Hobbs. Following the meeting all the Steering Committee members endeavoured to interest a wide range of companies and organisations to join the association, the initial aims of which were:

  1. To promote international trade
  2. To agree terms of business worldwide for the settlement of disputes
  3. To liaise with the appropriate government and other official bodies worldwide
  4. To authorise and/or organise international meetings.

A range of discussions took place e.g. do we really need another association when IFRA, IOFI and various national associations were already in existence? Should membership be by individual, company or by association? Was an international essential oils contract feasible and necessary? Some traders opposed the establishment of IFEAT worried that such a body would link up producers with end users and lead to a reduced role for traders. The American Essential Oils Association was split, and Eric Bruell who was a major figure in the essential oils trade was opposed, and other sceptics included Jacques Quarre and Patrick Vigne from France as was Dennis Cox of Copelands in the UK. After various discussions, it was agreed that these issues should be developed, presented and discussed at the 7th International Congress of Essential Oils at Kyoto, Japan. On the 9th October 1977 in the grand setting of the Kyoto Conference Hall, under the chairmanship of Ron Neal, IFEAT became a reality as the presidents of American, French, Japanese and other major associations of traders, as well as individual traders without national associations, gave their overwhelming support to the London Steering Committee’s ideas. The meeting went on to elect the nucleus of a World Council, to be based in London, by which IFEAT would be governed. From the very start, IFEAT was an international organisation aimed at bringing growers, merchant houses and compounders from developed and developing countries closer together to harmonise their trade in essential oils and aroma chemicals. 18 nations joined IFEAT’s World Council and elected officers included R Bordas (President), R V Neal (Chairman), J L Adrian (France), C Breunesse (Netherlands), S C Datta (India, who was funded by Sant Sanganeria), R C Pisano (USA), K D Protzen (Germany), N H T Suwignyo (Indonesia) and M A Murray-Pearce (Hon. Secretary). Two major committees were established, the Executive Committee and the Contracts Committee, chaired by Jack Abehouse, from the US Essential Oils Association, who had already drafted contract proposals. The formulation of a universally acceptable contract was too receive top priority, in part to raise the status of the essential oils trade to that of other major commodity markets trading in raw materials, such as sugar, grains, coffee, cocoa and vegetable oils. Other familiar names on the contract committee included Dr W S Brud (Poland), E J Dierberger (Brazil), L Fischbeck (USA), D Narpati (Indonesia) and H Ueno (Japan). IFEAT’s Memorandum and Articles of Association were presented and agreed in Kyoto, including two categories of membership – association and individual. Shortly after the Kyoto Congress, Richard Pisano, an EOA board member made a detailed presentation to the EOA, urging the Association and its members to join IFEAT. The 2nd IFEAT Executive Committee meeting was on Saturday 26th November 1977 at the Chelsea home of Eileen Day Lawson and chaired by Ron Neal, with many of the international officers present. Discussions centred on the draft Memorandum and Articles of Association from Kyoto, which were considered “too elaborate” by many. Membership was discussed, particularly how to increase numbers, leading to a recruitment drive, as well as the desirability of “consumers” of F&F ingredients NOT being admitted to IFEAT membership. However, if a “consumer” company were already a member of a national association then its application would not be questioned or refused. Individual company annual membership fees were agreed at $60 and for those joining via their national association at $50, substantially lower than the fees proposed in Kyoto. Other topics discussed were very similar to those that were to dominate Executive Committee discussions over the next 39 years!!

After the employment of lawyers and much discussion about the content of the Memorandum and Articles of Association IFEAT formally came into existence on 18th May 1978 with the Certificate of Incorporation No, 1369368. The following people from eleven countries signed the documents and, along with members of the initial London Steering Committee can be considered the Founder Members of IFEAT:

Jose Luis Adrian (Adrian, France)

Ramon Bordas (Destilaciones Bordas Chinchurreta, Spain)

Cornelius Breunesse (Mirandolle Voute B.V., Netherlands)

Sunil Chatta Datta (Central Institute for Medical and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, India)

Wilhem Henning (S.A.F. Kauch & Cia Paraguay)

Yukio Higuchi (Takasago Perfumery Co. Ltd., Japan)

Ibrahim Kamel (Kato Aromatic Company, Egypt)

Patrick Maunsell (Zimmerman Hobbs Ltd., UK)

Murray Alexander Murray-Pearce (Cosmetic World News, UK)

Ronald V Neal (Fuest Day Lawson Ltd., UK)

Richard Pisano (Citrus and Allied Essences Ltd. USA)

Klaus-Dieter Protzen (Paul Kaders GmbH, Germany)

H T Nyo Suwignyo (Prodexco, Indonesia)

This is how a scandal relating to drums of muddy water shipped around the world led to our thriving and vibrant federation that we know today!


Peter Greenhalgh

The History of IFEAT




1977 – 1985   Ramon Bordas Snr

1985 – 1994   Ronald V. Neal

1994 – 2000   Dr Wladyslaw S. Brud

2000 – 2005   Richard C. Pisano

2005 – 2008   Hugo Bovill

2008 – 2014   Michael G. Boudjouk

2014 – 2017   Raul Amigo

IFEAT’s current President is Alastair Hitchen.



1977 – 1980   Ronald V. Neal

1980 – 1983   Jose L. Adrian

1983 – 1986   Richard C. Pisano

1986 – 1989  Wladyslaw S. Brud

1989 – 1992   Takio Yamada

1992 – 1995   Sant K. Sanganeria

1995 – 1998   Necati Guler

1998 – 2001   Hugo Bovill

2001 – 2004   Michael G. Boudjouk

2004 – 2007   Katrina Neale

2007 – 2010   Alastair Hitchen

2010 – 2013   Ramon Bordas

2013 – 2016   Alain Frix

2016 – 2019  Antonella Corleone

IFEAT’s current Executive Committee Chair is Hussein Fakhry.

History of the 40 years of IFEAT!


Read Peter Greenhalgh’s “History of IFEAT” series. The full version in a book was given as a gift at the Athens Fortieth Anniversary Conference 2017. Each of these articles has been included in past issues of IFEATWORLD.



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