Bell Flavors & Fragrances began as the William M. Bell Company founded in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Bell’s flavors were extremely innovative during these early years in the flavor industry. His previous education as a flavor chemist in confections gave him a great understanding of flavors, but it was his creative nature that captured his customers’ tastes. In the early years, William M. Bell sold his creative flavors to local ice cream parlors, grocery stores, and soda pop shops.
The William M. Bell Company’s flavors became so demanding he had to expand. His first manufacturing facility was on West Grand Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. The location proved to be ideal, as Chicago quickly became the “Candy Capital of the World.” Today there is no “Candy Capital of the World,” but Chicago still ranks high in productivity in the confectionery market, as well as other food and beverage markets.
William M. Bell was successful in developing sweet flavors for his confectionery and dairy customers. Many new products were being formulated with a dairy product called whey, a highly nutritious ingredient, but difficult to balance correctly with taste. William M. Bell was successful in this challenge, using his remarkable ability to analyze and create flavors. His creative ability allowed Bell’s flavors to be incorporated into the first caramels and marshmallows produced in the US. Today, Bell’s flavors are still widely used in these product areas.
In the early 1950s, William M. Bell and his wife passed away. With no children to inherit the business, the Wm. M. Bell Company was sold to Theonett & Company, a flavor company located at 3215 West Grand Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Theonett & Co. was owned by Arthur Netter and Frank Robinson, whose flavor business was mainly devoted to the beverage industry. Theonett & Co. moved the William. M. Bell Company to be part of their operations on Grand Avenue, but kept the businesses separate.
Edward N. Heinz decided to take his 25 years of knowledge and experience in the flavor industry and purchased the William M. Bell Company. Mr. Heinz and his sons brought a renewed enthusiasm to the company. Bell continued to grow through their creativity, hard work and building customer loyalty.
Ed Heinz and his three sons knew that it was not only necessary to grow organically, but also to take on acquisitions to achieve a national and even international reach. In 1976, Bell made its first acquisition, Maumee Flavors & Fragrances, located in Danbury, Connecticut.
Maumee developed a line of standard flavors and fragrances and also manufactured primary ingredients in the Anthranilate group (Methyl Anthranilate; Dimethyl Anthranilate; Ethyl Anthranilate) – key ingredients in creating berry and grape flavors. Bell moved the manufacturing of Maumee to its Melrose Park, Illinois plant, but kept some sales offices and labs on the East Coast.
The Wm. Bell Company changed its name to Bell Flavors & Fragrances after Bell acquired a fragrance company in Chicago, Illinois, called Roubechez, Inc. This company specialized in developing and selling fragrances to the candle, soap, detergent and household care industries. Bell moved Roubechez, Inc. into their Melrose Park plant with the additional rental of 30,000 square feet of space in a separate building adjacent to its existing building.
Bell purchased the flavor division of the Stepan Chemical Company and moved its headquarters into a new manufacturing plant located at 500 Academy Drive, Northbrook, Illinois. This location is Bell’s Corporate Headquarters today.
Bell’s acquisition of Stepan also included Fries & Bro. Founded in 1845, Fries & Bro. was the premier tobacco flavor company within the flavor industry.
Bell acquired Nestlé’s flavor and fragrance division known as Synfleur. This acquisition acquired two additional manufacturing plants for Bell in White Lake, New York, and Montecello, New York, and an R&D Center in Paramus, New Jersey.
The Synfleur acquisition greatly strengthened Bell’s fragrance business, as they had supplied Johnson & Johnson their baby powder fragrance for over 100 years. Synfleur also supplied Nestle with many of their flavors for beverages, confections, savory and dairy products.
Bell privatized the operations of Schimmel & Company in Leipzig, Germany. This company, originally founded in 1829, is considered to be the founding flavor and fragrance company in the world. This facility is one of the largest, most modern production plants in Europe. With over 40 R&D professionals, 20 of whom hold Doctorates, Bell’s tradition of innovation and research continues to create award winning products throughout the world.
This facility is also home to the Schimmel Library, the oldest chemical library in the world. The Schimmel Library has collections of some of the earliest and most pioneering work to ever be developed and studied in this industry.
Bell purchased a 100,000 square foot manufacturing plant from PFW-Hercules. This modern plant, located in Middletown, New York, serves as Bell’s manufacturing for fragrances and botanicals, servicing our North American customers.
Bell continued its international expansion by acquiring Naturome, a flavor company located in Brossard, Canada, a suburb of Montreal. Naturome specializes in R&D research in flavors for beverages and dairy products (yogurts).
Bell has invested and grown this company to be one of the largest flavor manufacturing companies in Canada that strictly supplies the Canadian market. This division is now called Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Canada.
Bell started a flavor and fragrance business in Hong Kong. This business was to supply flavors and fragrances to China as well as the Asia Pacific countries.
In 1999 and 2000, Bell acquired the medium and small flavor and fragrance business of a large competitor, Haarmann & Reimer in the United States and Canada. This acquisition of medium and small customers and the associated formulas supplied to these customers broadened Bell’s customer base in the United States and Canada.
Bell acquired a 50 year old flavor and fragrance manufacturer located in Guadalajara, Mexico called Empresa Industrial Izadora de Guadalajara S.A. de C.V. (EIGSA).
This company manufactured flavors for the alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage industry, confectionary industry, dairy industry, and now the savory industry. They also manufacture ingredients for the dairy and ice cream industry. One ingredient is Eigsamix, an extender for milk. Another ingredient is Chococob, a chocolate topping for ice cream cones. They also manufacture fragrances for the personal care industry. This company is now called Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Mexico.
Bell acquired a flavor company located in Minnesota, called Penrith Akers. This flavor company specialized in beverage flavors and was a regional supplier to beverage companies for four surrounding states. This company was consolidated into Bell’s Northbrook, Illinois location.
Bell opened a manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China. This facility has two separate plants, a flavor plant and a fragrance plant, along with R&D and administration offices. Bell was one of the first flavor and fragrance companies to be able to incorporate and not have a 50% joint venture with a Chinese company. Bell China is 100% a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bell U.S. Bell determined that the Shanghai operation and plants would handle business for the Chinese market. This emerging market has shown tremendous opportunity and growth for Bell as Bell expects to achieve a yearly 10% growth rate in the Chinese market. This operation is now called Bell Flavors & Fragrances, China.
Considering China is the largest tobacco consuming market, Bell began focusing its business on tobacco flavoring. Bell is the only foreign company in China that has a tobacco license, which means Bell is the only foreign company that can deal directly with the monopoly. All other companies have to go through a broker that has to go through a license that is given to them by Beijing.
Bell incorporates Bell Flavors & Fragrances do Brasil Ind. Com.E Repress, Ltda in Sao Paulo, Brasil and begins manufacturing flavors for some of Bell’s global customers who required flavors to be manufactured locally to alleviate the high duty rate of bringing flavors into Brasil.
Due to exponential growth in domestic and international business, Bell’s Northbrook, Illinois, headquarters acquired an 85,000 sq. ft. warehouse building that is contiguous to the existing corporate headquarters. This warehouse building location is logistically ideal for long-term expansion and planning.
Bell attained the Certification of SQF (Safe Quality Food) 2000 Level 3 for its manufacturing facility in Northbrook, Illinois. The SQF certification program is a leading global food safety and quality certification program and management system designed to meet the needs of buyers and suppliers worldwide. This prestigious Level 3 certification requires a rigorous third party audit process in addition to an extensive review of policies, procedures, and systems. SQF Level 3 Certification provides customers with the guarantee that their products are manufactured by a consistently safe and high quality source.
Bell Northbrook has maintained SQF 2000 Level 3 certification since then and Bell Canada attained the same certification in 2012.
Bell Flavors & Fragrances secured its newest international subsidiary with the acquisition of Iceberg Industries flavor division in Sao Paulo Brazil. Iceberg-Aromas has resided in the Brazilian market since 1939 with customers in all segments, particularly in sweets, confectionery, chewing gum, ice cream, drinks, biscuits and savory products.
The new facility contains state of the art innovation labs that will serve as a hub of new product creation and customer collaboration for the South American market. Bell’s new facility manufactures flavors, fragrances and botanical extracts to the South American market.
Bell develops creative flavors and fragrances for the food, beverage, cosmetic, household care, personal care, oral care, and tobacco companies throughout the world. Bell’s position in the industry has come a long way since 1912, but the same values William M. Bell and Edward N. Heinz held are still carried on by the Heinz and Bell Family today.