EU Antitrust Enforcers Fine Fragrance and Flavors Giant for Deleting Chat Messages During Probe

The European Commission fined New York-based International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. and its French counterpart (“IFF”) yesterday the equivalent of $17 million for obstructing an investigation. During a search of employees’ mobile phones while scouring IFF facilities last year, an investigator discovered that a senior executive deleted WhatsApp messages he had exchanged with a competitor while the Commission’s probe of the industry was under way.

The Commission considers the intentional deletion of business-related messages, i.e., potential evidence, after being informed of an inspection a very serious infringement.

This is the first time the Commission imposed a fine for deleting messages generated on social media apps during an inspection, emphasizing the evolving nature of compliance requirements in digital communication.

It could have been worse – to the tune of $34 million – but, because IFF cooperated, the Commission cut the fine in half from 0.3% to 0.15% of the company’s profits.

IFF generates $11.5 billion a year, roughly a quarter of industry revenues globally.  The global flavor and fragrance market amounted to $43 billion in 2023, according to figures compiled by Statista. Four companies control half of the global market. In addition to IFF, the dominant players are Swiss-based Givaudan, German-based Symrise, and, another Swiss company, Firmenich, now called DSM-Firmenich following a 2023 “merger of equals” with DSM.


We welcome your questions.

Members of the General Media and Business or Legal Press.
Speak to an antitrust expert for comment or background. Email:

Attorneys, Law Firms, and Other Organizations.
Contact Dan Mogin at in California or Jonathan Rubin at in Washington, DC.

Urgent Inquiry?
In addition to email, contact Dan Mogin at 619.687.6611 or Jonathan Rubin at 202.630.0616.

Sign up to view this Whitepaper