In 1965, Lionel Hitchen founded a business sourcing, creating, manufacturing and supplying the finest flavour ingredients. Today, over five decades later, Lionel Hitchen is still an independent family-owned company, driven by that same passion.

Our success has seen the business grow over the years, laying down robust roots with suppliers and working closely with customers. From our manufacturing base in the UK, we now supply an extensive range of flavour ingredients to the food and beverage industries around the globe.

Our business thrives on close and long established relationships with our global suppliers, our team of talented employees and strong customer relationships based on trust, ethics and innovation.

Throughout the years we have established a reputation for developing and supplying unique and natural products of the highest quality. We provide a world class service to our valued customers through the application of our technical expertise, flexibility and tailored and bespoke product development. Our aim is excellence in customer care.

We operate from two sites in Hampshire in the UK. Our manufacturing site is in Barton Stacey and is home to all our production facilities and support services. Our Virginia Works site in Andover houses our Innovation Centre as well as Customer Services, Sales, Logistics and Warehousing.

In the United States of America, our wholly owned subsidiary – Lionel Hitchen USA –provides local service to our US customers. Please visit our Contact Us page for details.

We’re passionate about all that we do. Lionel Hitchen customers enjoy:

  • Expert technical support finely honed over more than half a century in business. Our aim is to be the trusted advisor to food and beverage businesses
  • High Specification, unique products that can give your offering the commercial edge. Many of our products are created from intermediaries solely manufactured by Lionel Hitchen
  • Total Flexibility in order quantities because we recognise that to be innovative, you sometimes need to start small
  • Tailored product development through working collaboratively with our customers to identify and create exactly what is needed
  • Exceptional Customer Service in all aspects to ensure ultimate customer satisfaction.

Our principles:

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It is the policy of Lionel Hitchen Limited to provide a professional and responsive service to all of our customers at all times and to provide safe and legal products and services of the highest possible standards of performance, reliability and specified quality.

Lionel Hitchen has been certified against the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety since 2011. This world-leading standard is regarded as the benchmark for best practice in the food industry.  We value the structure and the discipline that this standard demands and recognise the contribution that it makes to ensuring we can provide our customers with consistently high quality products; meeting agreed specifications, compliant with all relevant regulations.  Our certification demonstrates that as part of our Food Safety and Quality Management System, we have robust hazard analysis and risk assessment (HACCP), traceability and vulnerability assessment systems in place.

In order to provide confidence to our wide range of customers, we have developed our systems to ensure that they meet additional voluntary modules to the BRC Global Standard; The Traded Goods Module and the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) module.

Our BRC Certificate , including the Traded Goods Module can be downloaded here.

The FSMA module certificate can be downloaded here.

Lionel Hitchen meets the needs of our customers by producing materials that are certified to Kosher Standards (Kosher London Beth Din), and to Halal Standards (Halal Food Authority).

We operate a strict policy to exclude nuts and sesame seeds from our facilities to give our customers assurance regarding allergen controls.

All of our products are suitable for vegetarians.

We continue to invest in our quality control systems to ensure that we can deliver the superior and consistent quality that our customers have come to expect from us.

We are active members of;

  • UK Flavours Association
  • British Essential Oils Association
  • Food and Drink Federation
  • British Spice and Seasoning Association

This ensures we always remain abreast of the latest regulations and developing technology.

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Our World Class Manufacturing (WCM) continuous improvement programme is the basis for how we work in every aspect across our whole business. We are proud that as a company, we are united in the goals we work towards, with WCM driving improvement and best practice at every step.

The WCM programme enables active involvement from every Lionel Hitchen employee, across all departments. Each and every effort is valued, so that individuals can proudly contribute to the growth and success of our company.

These innovative techniques create a culture of participation and engagement, which makes Lionel Hitchen an enjoyable place to work for everyone.

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As a family owned company with manufacturing and warehousing sites in rural Hampshire, we fully appreciate the impact our business potentially has on people and the environment. Our under-lying values are to operate with respect and integrity with our employees, with our local communities and throughout our supply chain.

See our Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement here.

Supplier relationships

Even before the company was created, Lionel Hitchen had developed strong relationships with suppliers of raw materials, many of whom are still going today. We recognise that working in partnership with our suppliers is not only extremely valuable in delivering quality and consistency to our products, but also for sustaining people’s livelihoods in remote regions. We visit suppliers regularly to ensure they are operating with social accountability in mind.

We operate to the Ethical Trading Initiative Criteria (ETI Base code).

Our business is registered with Sedex, and we are audited every three years to demonstrate compliance to the ETI code. We have put in place systems to ensure that we and our suppliers operate within the Modern Slavery Act.


We recognise the importance of careful control of the risks to our environment that our business could present. Therefore we:

  • Consider the effects that our operations may have on the local community.
  • Promote environmental awareness amongst our suppliers, contractors and partners by implementation of operational policies.
  • Train our employees on environmental protection.
  • Continuously monitor our waste to reduce waste, divert from landfill and increasingly use recycling facilities.
  • Run energy reduction programmes through investing in new technology and making operational improvements.
  • Continuously invest in environmental risk improvements.
  • Ensure effective and expedient incident control, investigation and reporting.
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Please note that we are only accredited to supply products to be used in flavourings for human consumption in food and beverages. We cannot comply to the regulations pertaining to the fragrance, aromatherapy and cosmetics market, such as REACH, IFRA and therefore cannot supply into these markets. Our products have not been assessed for safety in electronic cigarettes or other inhalation devices.

The history of Lionel Hitchen

Lionel Hitchen

Born in 1914,  Lionel Hitchen was the eldest of four boys growing up in Sutton in South London.

Whilst in Sicily during WW2, Lionel made great friends with Roger Allen whose family owned Stafford & Allen, and Dr Pietro Polara, who would later establish the San Lorenzo company.

As a result of these friendships, in 1949 Lionel went to work for Stafford & Allen. Lionel also became a director of the San Lorenzo citrus fruit processing company in Sicily.

After the merger of the Bush, Boake and Allen businesses in 1964, Lionel would go on to found Lionel Hitchen (Essential Oils) Limited.

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Lionel Hitchen (Essential Oils) Ltd founded

Lionel Hitchen established the business on the 19th February 1965 in Reigate, Surrey.

Sicilian orange, mandarin and bergamot oil speciality products were the first to be manufactured. From the outset Lionel’s ambition was to produce high quality products, sourced and supplied with integrity.

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First Distributor appointed

Business quickly expanded overseas and led to the appointment of our first Distributor – Tanemura & Co Ltd, a food ingredients family owned business founded in 1921 and based in Tokyo. Mr Tanemura and Lionel Hitchen had previously conducted business when Lionel worked for Stafford Allen.

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Expansion to Mitcham

In 1968, already needing more space to accommodate a growing business, the firm opened a new site in Mitcham.

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LHEO produces its first herb and spice extracts

Having established a reputation as a supplier of high quality citrus specialities, the business went on to expand the range of products manufactured and supplied.

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Alastair Hitchen joins the business

After spending time in the USA and India to gain knowledge of the flavour ingredient business, Alastair was the first of Lionel’s children to join the business, starting on the 1st September.

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Expansion to Barton Stacey

A site was acquired at Barton Stacey in Hampshire.

Existing production lines and installation of new equipment to the site would be gradual in order to maintain continuity of supply to our customers.

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Peter Hitchen joins the business

Peter Hitchen joins on 1st July, having graduated in Business Studies and learning much about the industry during his industrial placement year in the USA.  Peter was now set on the path to become known as “Mr Citrus.”

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Alison Barnes (née Hitchen) joins the company

A truly family business begins to emerge as another of Lionel’s children join Lionel, Alastair and Peter in their endeavours.

Alison Barnes, née Hitchen, a chartered Accountant, takes up a role in Finance on 1st October.

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Manufacturing at Mitcham ends

During the previous 10 years,  manufacturing had gradually been moved from Mitcham to Barton Stacey as the new site was developed.

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Business expands to Australia

Cooke Aromatics, owned by Peter Cooke who had previously worked for several major flavour companies including Bush Boake Allen is appointed as Distributor for Australia. On Peter’s retirement in 2007, the business was taken over by Ingredientbox Pty Ltd.

In 2015, Hawkins Watts Australia Pty Ltd. is appointed as a Distributor, following Lionel Hitchen’s success with Hawkins Watts New Zealand in 2008.

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Business expands to New Zealand

Robert Importers, based in Auckland, is appointed as Distributor for New Zealand, following a personal recommendation by Peter Cooke of neighbouring Cooke Aromatics.

Upon retirement in 2008, the business is sold to Hawkins Watts Limited, another family owned business, who remain as our Distributor to the present day.

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Business expands to Thailand

Abbra Corporation Ltd, a successful, privately owned business based in Bangkok, was appointed as our Distributor for Thailand soon after their very first meeting with Alastair and Peter Hitchen in Winchester.

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Business expands to France and Belgium

Didier Braillon, with many years experience of the flavour industry is appointed as Distributor for France and Belgium. Didier’s legacy continues today with his son Jean-Luc Braillon, owner of Braillon MPA.

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Business expands to USA

Thwaites Inc. is appointed as Agent for the US market. The owner, David Thwaites, is no stranger to the flavour industry having worked for Lionel Hitchen (Essential Oils) Limited as our very first production manager. David’s daughter Dianne Hustus enters the family business and subsequently works for Lionel Hitchen USA, founded in 2007.

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Business expands to South Korea

KNS Trading Co. Ltd, managed by Mr S.Y. Lee is appointed as Distributor for South Korea.

Mr Lee was later succeeded by his son, Ben Lee.

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Second site acquired at Virginia Works, Andover

A second site is acquired in Andover, only 8 miles from Barton Stacey. This site provides warehousing as well as being home to central services such as Customer Services, Sales and Logistics.

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Business expands to Germany and Austria

Well situated in Brechen, near Frankfurt, F.E.P.A. GmbH and its founder, Frank Gutzeit, is appointed Distributor for Germany and Austria.

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Lionel Hitchen retires

Lionel, aged 87, decides to step down from the day to day business. He continues to attend senior management meetings.

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New development labs open at Virginia Works site

In 2005, Virginia Works became home to our team of experienced flavourists.


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Business expands to Russia

Citi Impex Company Ltd, founded by Predeep Cherian, is appointed Distributor for Russia and is based in Moscow.

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Business expands to South Africa

CPL AROMAS South Africa (Pty) Ltd based in Johannesburg is appointed Distributor for South Africa. The company ownership & name changes in 2014 to Company of Aromas Pty Ltd. In 2016, the business is acquired by Carst & Walker (South Africa) who remain our Distributor for South Africa.

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Lionel Hitchen USA Ltd incorporated 5th January 2007

Lionel Hitchen USA Limited in Sarasota, Florida is established to support expansion in the USA.

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Business expands to China

Shanghai Chinyou Industry Co., Ltd (formerly Shanghai Threewin Trading Co., Ltd) founded by Fan Wang, is appointed as our Chinese Distributor.

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Lionel attends his last senior management meeting

Lionel Hitchen, aged 94, attended his last ever senior management meeting.

His spirit and business principles will forever live on within the business.

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BRC Accreditation

The business demonstrates its commitment to the highest possible food industry standards when BRC Accreditation Grade A is attained on our first attempt in 2011.


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Lionel Hitchen appointed its first CEO, Eva Agnew

A focus on manufacturing and service  excellence and the implementation of our World Class Manufacturing program have assisted in ensuring that Lionel Hitchen continues to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.

Over the next few years an extended board of directors is assembled to ensure continued growth and success.

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The business celebrates the 50th  anniversary of its foundation in 1965.

In the same year, a BRC AA Grade accreditation was obtained and subsequently retained, underlining our commitment to producing high quality, natural products to a consistently high standard.

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Present Day

Today, in conjunction with our distributors, Lionel Hitchen supplies Naturally Fabulous Flavour Ingredients to over 50 countries around the world.

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