Lawsuits mount against Givaudan, Firmenich, IFF and Symrise amid fragrance antitrust investigation

By Julia Wray | Published: 24-Jul-2023

Texan business Crimson Candle Supplies leads US-based scented products companies in the latest class action filed against the fragrance giants

A prospective class action filed in a New Jersey, US court last week has become the latest case mounted against fragrance giants Givaudan, Firmenich, International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) and Symrise. 

The lawsuits follow the announcement of investigations by antitrust authorities in Switzerland, Europe, the UK and the US into suspected pricing collusion earlier this year.

This latest case was filed on 20 July on behalf of Texas-based Crimson Candle Supplies and other US businesses selling scented products, such as candles and soaps. 

The complaint from Crimson Candle’s lawyers read: “Defendants’ conspiracy to inflate the price of fragrances by allocating products and customers harmed plaintiff and members of the class. 

“Plaintiff and the class are the direct purchasers of fragrances and fragrance ingredients from defendants.” 

Crimson Candle’s case is represented by law firms Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, but other plaintiffs’ firms have filed cases, including Hausfeld, Berger Montague, Gustafson Gluek and Korein Tillery, according to Reuters.

On 7 March, Switzerland’s Firmenich and Givaudan, US-headquartered IFF and Germany’s Symrise were subjected to dawn raids at various locations by the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) working in consultation with the European Commission, the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

At the time, all the companies in question told Cosmetics Business that they were cooperating with the authorities, while a COMCO representative confirmed that the investigation would examine whether there had indeed been restrictions of competition prohibited by cartel law. 

They added that, given its complexity, the investigation would probably last for two or three years. 

In May, meanwhile, Symrise asked the Luxembourg-based General Court to annul the European Commission's decision ordering the raids.

The German company argued the Commission “did not have sufficient indicia providing reasonable grounds for suspecting the applicant’s involvement in any competition law infringement”. 

It also took issue with the raid decision’s wording, saying it “did not place the applicant in a position to understand the scope of the inspection, and thus exercise its rights of defence”.

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