The foundations of the modern fragrance industry can be traced to fragrance producers established in the south of France during the sixteenth century.
 France’s Mediterranean coast offers excellent conditions for cultivating plants whose flowers, fruit, stems, and roots are used to produce fragrances.
 For centuries fragrance manufacturers located themselves near growers in order to obtain and process the plant materials as soon as possible after their harvest. By the nineteenth century, many of the essences produced by these manufacturers were shipped to Paris to be purchased by hundreds of small perfume houses there that mixed them.
and sold the compounds in branded retail products like fine fragrances, soaps, and cosmetics.
 Throughout the nineteenth century, the farms, essential oil producers, and manufacturers of branded fragrances were family enterprises.
 With small staffs, often comprised of related individuals who spent their entire careers with the same firm, it was relatively easy for these businesses to maintain proprietary information about distillation techniques, the composition of branded perfumes, and other elements of the production process.
During the twentieth century, the fragrance industry underwent radical changes. Increasing real estate values in the area of Grasse, coupled with rising labor costs, prompted the sale of land once used to cultivate jasmine and other flowers for more profitable uses like condominium developments.
 Today, most of the crops used in fragrance manufacture are grown and processed in countries like Algeria and India where land and labor are relatively inexpensive.
 Most of the small perfumeries in Paris have disappeared or have been consolidated. By the end of the twentieth century, five fragrance and flavor companies – none of them French – had come to supply over half of the world fragrance market. Whereas the perfumeries in Paris in the nineteenth century created their own branded proprietary blends, today most perfumes are developed and manufactured by a few large corporations with branches all over the world.