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Vanesa Martínez

SPAIN - Industry

Vanesa Martínez

CEO, Grupo Carinsa


Vanesa Martínez holds a degree in Business Administration and Management (ADE) from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Since 2005 until the present, she has been the CEO of Grupo CARINSA, a company she has been a part of since 1995. Additionally, Vanesa Martínez holds various membership positions: she is a member of the Governing Council of the Cre100Do Foundation; a member of the Board of Directors of ASCEF and co-chair of the Innovation Commission; treasurer of the association Food and Agri Tech Europe (FATE); a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain Commission; a trustee and member of the executive committee of EURECAT; a member of the Board of Directors of Mutua Intercomarcal; a judge for the Entrepreneurship Awards of the Alberto Martínez Ortega Institute; a judge for the Ecotrophelia Awards; a mentor for the Crecemos Juntas – Rural Women Project; among other positions in FIAB, Cotec Foundation, AMAF, AMEC, ASEMAC, PIMEC, FIDEM, FOOD SERVICE, INNOVAC, CECOT.

"The biggest challenge is understanding what clients and consumers want in each country and adapting accordingly."
TBY talks to Vanesa Martínez, CEO of Grupo Carinsa, about innovation, most successful divisions of the business, and a new factory in Barcelona.
Can you elaborate on Grupo Carinsa’s evolution in the last 30 years?

The company was started by our father, Alberto Martínez Ortega, who was a management chemist. He started this business in 1993 with my mother, and they were always clear about Carinsa’s goal: To develop the best product. This objective focused on three main considerations, the first of which is understanding the final product. For this, we always have pilot plants where we hire an expert who has worked in that final industry. When hiring these people, we connect them with our other pillar: innovation. In 1997, when we started in the dairy sector, we saw the emerging trend in probiotics and starting investing in and partnered with the University of Barcelona. Another essential aspect is our international vision. Our market is the entire world because we export to different countries. Clients from around the world come to our pilot plants to work on their final development, allowing them to customize their fragrances and make gradual adjustments without interrupting their production. Another pillar of ours is specialized diversification, all within a sustainable framework. And as we strengthen our ecosystem, our focus is on the final consumer and not just the client. We need to understand what the customer wants, which we achieve using a range of approaches such as neuroscience. Grupo Carinsa is present in 30 countries, and each year, we increase both our presence in these markets and our portfolio. In 2024, we will specialize in two more sectors: cosmetics and plant-based products.

With operations in 57 markets, what main challenges do you encounter when entering a new market?

The biggest challenge is understanding what clients and consumers want in each country and adapting accordingly. You cannot apply the same rules universally. We work with two senses: taste and smell, and also consider the way we relate to clients. In each country, we study the best way to establish ourselves there. We collaborate with local leaders to learn from them, as they are accustomed to exporting and importing. We observe what the market needs and adapt to it. We know there is a global trend toward natural and healthy products, for example, though in some countries, price is also a crucial consideration. As a company, we choose not to engage in certain sectors, such as tobacco, which goes against our values.

How does each division contribute to overall group revenue, and which is the main contributor?

While all divisions are experiencing growth, the most profound has been in perfumes, although we are more oriented toward aromas. Currently, revenue is fairly evenly distributed among divisions. We have entered the cosmetic sector in a revolutionary way. We have European trademarks, and we have established our own encapsulation factory globally. We have also initiated a global project with South Korea, known as the home of cosmetics.

Can you tell us more about the disruptive project Grupo Carinsa is leading called Embolden?

It is revolutionary because it involves cosmetic medicine without invasive procedures. We have developed clean encapsulation techniques for lotions, creams, and hyaluronic acid. This encapsulation, initially developed for detergents, has now been adapted to other products. The project leverages technology but also contributes to sustainability. This sector is growing, as people increasingly seek non-invasive procedures to take greater care of themselves.

Grupo Carinsa is investing USD12 million in a new factory in Barcelona. How is this project progressing?

In 2023, we experienced 37% growth, and this growth trajectory continues to date. We received a proposal and knew we needed more space to accommodate the consequent growth that would result. We selected the Barcelona region due to its proximity to the airport and train stations. Initially, we plan to start the Carinsa showroom in the first trimester. Sustainability is a key consideration for us, and we aim to set an example with our new building. Additionally, maintaining carbon neutrality and minimizing environmental impact are important aspects. We also plan to implement AI technologies. Our chemists and engineers undergo specialized training, sometimes in countries like France or the UK. In the future, we envision co-creating with AI to develop disruptive products that align with consumer preferences. Our aim is to showcase our work in the showroom. Ultimately, creating fragrances is an art form, and we want to connect this art with people. We train our staff to understand raw materials and aromas. Moreover, we want to educate people about scents and how they can influence behavior and emotions. For instance, we have undertaken projects using scents to prevent traffic accidents in Morocco, demonstrating how fragrances can alter moods positively. We understand the importance of opening minds and connecting art with our clients.

Could you provide details about the event you will be hosting this year, the Awards for Entrepreneurship?

Due to ongoing work on the showroom, the event has been scheduled for July next year. The award consists of three categories. The event will feature immersive experiences and space for start-ups. We have established an association for start-ups, providing management guidance based on our experience in the field. It is important for us to create spaces like these, as they can make a significant difference.

What are Grupo Carinsa’s goals for the future?

Our goal is to change the world through our expertise in aromas and flavors. We aim to have our name associated with trust in the consumer market, with products labeled “Carinsa’s aromas.” We ultimately aspire to become a reference brand in our industry.



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