The seeds of IFEAT were sown in London in 1976 when Ron Neal assembled a steering committee of traders, brokers and users of essential oils, with the purpose of forming an international organisation which could represent all sections of the industry.
This committee developed a plan which was put forward at the Essential Oil Congress held in Kyoto, Japan in 1977. The ideas and aims were discussed by the delegates over two days and there was considerable interest and general approval from a large majority of the delegates.
The first Executive Committee was elected under the Chairmanship of Ron Neal and the Presidency of Ramón Bordas Snr. The international future of the organisation was emphasised and recognised and at the first Executive, no less than ten countries had representatives.
From such small beginnings, the organisation now has a membership over 550 companies representing more than 55 countries.
The remit of the organisation, which was decided by the Executive in these early days, remains much the same today as then:
- To advance and promote the commercial viewpoint of the essential oils and aroma chemicals industry worldwide.
- To encourage the production of essential oils and aroma chemicals and co-operate with international associations representing the compounders of essential oils and aromatics.
- To organise international meetings and to develop a constructive dialogue among producers, dealers and users of fragrance and flavour raw materials.
The founders of IFEAT had not been happy with the way that international meetings had been decided and organised. It was the custom to have a congress every three years but it appeared the venue was decided by very few people who did not represent the industry as a whole. Therefore, one of the main aims of the newly formed IFEAT was to organise meetings which would involve all sections of the industry. This approach has been one of the Association's undoubted successes and since its inception, IFEAT has organised many successful conferences in many parts of the world.
The first IFEAT conference was held in 1979 in Bangalore, India, when there were approximately one hundred attendees and the latest was in Sri Lanka in 2015 when there were over one thousand delegates and accompanying persons.
Although IFEAT is a UK registered company, it is essentially an international organisation. The Executive Committee, which is elected by the members, continues to run the organisation. A chairman is elected by committee members for a period of three years maximum.