Farmers dry cupnacu seeds on a farm (Brazil)

Brazil Sustainable cultivation of cosmetic raw materials in the Amazon rainforest

Latin America
Environment & Climate Sustainable supply chains Education & Training

Symrise, a German manufacturer of fragrances, flavours, cosmetic raw materials, cosmetic ingredients and functional ingredients, obtains raw materials relating to biodiversity such as fruits and seeds from forest areas in the Amazon region of Brazil. The local population (small farmers and gatherers) often lack the economic incentives for environmentally sound forest use, resulting in deforestation in vast areas of the Amazon. To prevent this, the production of ecological products needs to become competitive. In order to secure and develop a reliable supply chain for high-quality raw materials, Symrise teamed up with the Brazilian natural cosmetics producer Natura to support 17 farming cooperatives with state-of-the-art technology and know-how for gathering, processing and marketing cosmetic raw materials in the forests. Symrise cooperated with Natura and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH as part of a develoPPP project. develoPPP is a programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Many people in the Amazon region earn a living from gathering wild plants and fruits and from smallholder farming. In most cases, their incomes are low and their farming methods unsustainable. Clearing the forests to gain arable land is a seemingly attractive option. To conserve forest areas, these areas need to offer the population adequate income opportunities.

For Symrise and Natura, plants growing in the forest are important raw materials for oils that they process into cosmetics. The smallholders who gather and process the plants are therefore an important part of their supply chain. However, the cooperatives that the farming families belong to have so far failed to adequately meet the two companies' requirements for quality and quantity or to comply with the sustainability criteria for production. To run the cooperatives successfully in the long term, modern equipment and know-how on effective and sustainable gathering, harvesting and processing of the plants is required, in addition to training in management methods and organisational development tools.

From 2017 to 2021, the project partners supported 17 cooperatives and farmers' associations in three regions of Brazil with around 1,140 members by expanding existing, and establishing new supply chains, for gathering and processing biodiversity products such as the fruits from cocoa and cupuassu trees, babassu palms, and seeds from andiroba trees.

With a financial support of nearly €3 million, measures carried out included:

  • Improving the existing processing facilities and processes to improve the shelf life and enhance the quality of the products.
  • Training smallholder farmers and collectors in gathering, harvesting and processing methods and in managing their cooperatives.
  • Developing marketing strategies and business plans for the cooperatives and providing support with access to new markets.

Symrise was involved in developing new methods and technologies, while Natura advised the cooperatives and conducted training.

GIZ contributed access to its network, provided support with processing optimisation and also conducted training.

If we want to protect the Brazilian rainforests effectively, we need to consider both emotional and climate policy factors. We are grateful to GIZ for the cooperation that we have come to value in various projects over the past years. The synergies in place to implement the measures have contributed significantly to protecting this unique landscape.
Bernhard Kott, Chief Sustainability Officer at Symrise
Workers pour fruit into a press (Brazil)
Oil is extracted from various local fruits and seeds, which can be used for body care. Photo: K. Bohl/ GIZ
Solar dryer on a field (Brazil)
The solar dryers speed up the processing of andiroba seeds, which are used to produce vegetable fat. Photo: Pedro Krainovic/ GIZ

Natura gained 500 new suppliers, and all the participating cooperatives were accredited by the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) by 2021.

New prototypes for the cooperatives’ processing plants were developed and tested. In addition, new production lines were created from processing waste.

With these activities, Symrise and Natura were able to secure sources for important raw materials and achieve high quality standards for processing.

The improved processing, higher production volumes and new production lines allowed the cooperatives to increase their sales by more than 50 per cent.


Stacked coins

The 17 cooperatives were able to increase their sales volumes by more than 50 percent


Natural resources of the Amazon rainforest used sustainably or restored/ Deforestation avoided 

Graduation hat and wrench

130 people trained in management methods, collection practices, occupational safety and processing


Factory, people and truck in a circle

Natura gained 500 new suppliers for its cosmetic production


All cooperatives are audited and approved annually in accordance with the UEBT quality standard

Box with quality stamp

New production lines were developed from processing waste and presented at a trade fair

Woman working at a loom

develoPPP Classic

develoPPP Classic is aimed at medium-sized and large companies that want to invest sustainably in a developing or emerging country and expand their operational activities locally. Suitable projects receive technical and financial support of up to two million euros in public funding.

Symrise logo

Symrise AG

Symrise supplies fragrances and flavours, cosmetic raw materials, cosmetic ingredients and functional ingredients worldwide. The German company produces more than 30,000 products made from around 10,000 mostly natural raw materials at more than 100 locations worldwide. Symrise generated sales of around €3,520 million in 2020.

Natura Cosméticos logo

Natura Cosméticos S.A.

Natura Cosmeticos SA is a Brazilian cosmetics company offering makeup, skin care, hair care, toiletries and fragrances under the brands Natura, The Body Shop, Avon and Aēsop.

GIZ logo

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

GIZ is a federal enterprise operating in international cooperation for sustainable development and education work for over 50 years. GIZ supports economic development and employment and works with companies to develop strategies for sustainable business development.

Cristiane de Moraes
Cristiane de Moraes Regional Product Manager Botanicals & Colors LATAM – Global Product Manager Symrise Amazon Cosmetics Ingredients Division Symrise Aromas e Fragrâncias Ltda.
Mauro Costa
Mauro Costa Senior Procurement Manager Natura &CO LATAM
Sophie Grunze Project Manager develoPPP Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH