Overall, analysts see the sector as both competitive and lucrative. According to UBS U.S. Chemical Equity Research Director John Roberts, F&F products are consumed on a constant basis, and are less sensitive to changes in economic growth.
Separately, Jonathan Feeney of Athlos Research described the industry as invaluable, rich in intellectual property and steadily consolidating.
That sets the stage for further growth for F&F's big names. IFF, ranked by Leffingwell as the third largest F&F company is 2014, has a $9.31 billion market capitalization that was boosted this week by quarterly results that beat Wall Street's estimates.
The company has two distinct business units with 13 subcategories that range from perfume, toiletries, personal wash, sweet, and savory—pumping out 40,000 products annually.
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IFF's sales are evenly split between developed markets and emerging markets. Yet according to the company, emerging market sales grew three times faster than developed markets on a local currency basis. In developing economies, middle-class demand for processed foods and household, personal care items has been a major source of growth.
For that reason, in the past five years IFF has spent $320 million opening facilities in far-flung places like Turkey, Brazil, India and China.
Specifically, it opened a new Flavors creative facility in Jakarta, Indonesia, and established a sales office in Santiago, Chile. Additionally, it doubled its creative team in South Africa to "support the company's expanded customer base in the rapidly growing sub-Saharan Africa region."
IFF Chairman and CEO Andreas Fibig expects that will help set the stage to even further challenge its competition.
"We are here to lead where we compete," Fibig said, who took the reins of the company last September. "Our strong financial foundation, expansion in key markets and investment in innovation will redefine winning and lead to sustainable, profitable growth at IFF."
Fibig was previously President and head of Bayer's pharmaceuticals division. Since taking over at IFF, shares of the company are up double digits.
John Roberts of UBS noted that Fibig's background could help give IFF a big competitive leg up in the F&F market, as flavors and fragrances are regulated chemicals that are similar to pharmaceuticals. He has a neutral rating on the stock, which traded around $115 on Friday, near UBS's price target of $118.