That works out to a CAGR of 5.3%, but not every company is positioned to share in the growth. The fast-moving consumer goods category is highly competitive with winners and losers often decided by a share point or two. BASF executives say they have a complete product offering to help their customers win market share in every category, and country, around the world.
At press time, BASF hadn’t released full-year 2017 results, but global third quarter care chemical sales were up on volume and pricing gains, compared to third quarter of 2016. Additionally, BASF received the EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award two years in a row.
“Our customers are looking for sustainable solutions and we can help them create formulas that work well in cold water or with less wash water,” explained Daniele Piergentili, VP-home and personal care, NA.
Those solutions can be found in one of the largest product offerings in the world. BASF executives say their company offers a broad range of ingredients including nonionic and anionic surfactants, polymers, chelating agents, optical effect materials, stabilizers and enzymes.
“We have an extensive toolbox to work with,” explained Scott Thomson, SVP-Care Chemicals North America, BASF. “We can work quickly and closely with our customers to help get their products to market faster.”
Last month, BASF’s offerings improved with the expansion of its alkyl polyglucoside production capacity. According to Thomson, BASF now has a global footprint of sustainable surfactants. Specifically, production will expand in Cincinnati, OH and Jinshan, China. With Cincinnati coming on-line in 2018 and Jinshan in 2019, BASF aims to better serve North American and Asian customers from regional supply points while reducing cross-regional volume flows and shortening lead times.
At the time of the announcement, BASF said the investments in the US and China will also ease the capacity concerns at the APG plant in Düsseldorf, Germany, enabling BASF to continue fulfilling strong European market demand in a timely manner.
“We are well positioned in all regions,” asserted BASF Care Chemicals President Hans W. Reiners. “We can take a holistic approach to finding solutions, yet we remain agile and responsive to our customers’ needs.”
Pasadena Is On-Stream
Oxiteno executives say that their company is well-positioned throughout the world, too, following several years of investment. Oxiteno’s alkoxylation plant in Pasadena, TX is producing a wide range of specialty surfactants, such as kosher polysorbates, amine and alcohol ethoxylates, EO/PO products, sodium isethionate and high molecular weight PEGs.
“We built it on one technology that lets us build alkoxylation chemistry with different properties,” explained Alvim Jorge, global business head, home and personal care, Oxiteno. “Such as hand dishwash that rinses faster; we can adjust the molecules to deliver a different types of cleaning profiles.”
The site’s nameplate annual capacity is 370 million pounds. With that kind of capacity, Oxiteno will be the largest manufacturer in the Americas. Prior to the Pasadena site opening, Oxiteno was supplying products from Mexico and Brazil. The centrally located Pasadena site will serve as the multisource for the Americas, which saves time and money for customers—and guarantees supply throughout the region.
“The most expensive product is the one that you don’t have on the shelf,” observed Jorge.
Two products that Oxiteno promoted during ACI Week were Oxiflow F 1700 and Oxiflow S 6800 rheology modifiers. Oxiflow F 1700, designed for use in home and laundry care, does not require neutralization prior to the thickening process, making it easier to use and energy efficient. According to Oxiteno, Oxiflow F 1700 is particularly effective in formulations with low concentrations of surfactants and systems that are difficult to thicken with electrolytes, including those containing nonionic surfactants.
For personal care applications, Oxiflow S 6800 is a unique sensory feel liquid which does not require neutralization and can be easily incorporated into formulations. According to Oxiteno, it offers outstanding thickening performance in a variety of hair and skin cleansing formulations. It is said to be very effective in systems which are difficult to thicken with electrolytes such as those containing mild and nonionic surfactants.
Benefits of Both World
As ACI Week got underway in Orlando, Pilot Chemical announced a $5 million investment in a new Pittsburgh Innovation Center. The company is also committed to investing tens of millions of dollars during the next years in technology and innovation the new center and at its existing facilities.
“There is specialty chemical boom going on in Pittsburgh, which is in the middle of a Renaissance right now,” observed Patrick McCarthy, VP-technology and innovation. McCarthy joined Pilot when the company acquired ATRP last summer. ATRP was renamed Pilot Polymer Technologies.
The Innovation Center will be an expansion of the Pilot Polymer Technologies laboratory facility in Pittsburgh, and will double the size of the current facility. Its focus will be on addressing customer needs and the development of new products. Pilot Chemical will add nine new roles to staff the facility, which will be operational by June. The Innovation Center is just the latest example of Pilot’s commitment to the market it serves, according to company executives. That commitment includes more acquisitions if they are the right fit, according to CEO Pam Butcher.
“We have our eyes wide open,” she asserted. “We can be agile and flexible and, as a family-owned, privately-held company, we can be patient, too.”
Not having to answer to impatient stockholders and analysts gives Pilot executives the opportunity to think long-term for the benefit of its customers.
While Pilot is patient, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals is waiting patiently to learn more about its future. The division of AkzoNobel is up for sale, but no announcements are expected until the spring. The company is in talks with multiple parties to sell the business or it may seek a separate stock market listing for the division by mid-April. But regardless of the final outcome, Jeff Jirak, regional general manager for the Americas, insists that it will be business as usual for the company and its customers.
“We have a large capital investment plan in place and we are running the business planning for growth,” he told Happi. “Our focus remains of providing sustainable cleaning options to our customers. It is a core principle and it will continue.”
That was evident by Akzo Nobel Surface Chemistry earning the EPA’s Safer Choice Partner of the Year in 2017. A big reason for the EPA recognition was the launch of Berol DR-B1, according to Butch Dery, technical service and product development manager. Berol DR-B1 is categorized as a direct-release surfactant, meaning that it passed requirements to be approved by the EPA for direct release into the environment. Customers can therefore use it for a wide range of outdoor applications where very low environmental impact is a priority, such as cleaning of mass transit vehicles, car washes, or cleaning of house exteriors and garden furniture. According to Dery, Berol DR-B1 has already been formulated into powerwash formulas, but he is hopeful that it finds its way into I&I formulas, too.
With its focus on sustainability, it’s no surprise that AkzoNobel’s Imagine Chemistry competition seeks solutions on a variety of environmental issues. Now in its second year, Imagine Chemistry invites startups to collaborate on a variety of new ideas for a range of markets, including home care. This year, AkzoNobel is seeking solutions that revolve around the following challenges:
- Sustainable small particle technologies
- Wastewater-free chemical sites
- Intelligent chemical plants
- Revolutionizing chlorate production
- Sustainable powder technologies
- Zero footprint surfactant platforms
The Cleaning Is Easy
During the ACI Annual Meeting, Dow Home and Personal Care rolled out Dowsil EasyRinse Foam control agent for laundry care and Acusol Pro polymer for hard surface cleaning. Both launches are part of Dow’s Easy Next Clean collection of home cleaning solutions.
According to Eric Peeters, global business director, home and personal care, these introductions demonstrate the technical expertise that Dow Chemical can offer its customers, following the 2016 acquisition of Dow Corning.
“We have a portfolio advantage and our expertise runs across all segments, such as silicones, deposition molecules and other surface modifiers,” he explained. “We can use less materials, but provide more by marrying these technologies.”
Acusol Pro polymer creates a thin film to keep surfaces cleaner for longer and makes them easier to clean in the future.
EasyRinse plays a role in sustainability, too. Peeters noted that one billion people around the world still use multiple buckets of water to wash and rinse clothing. Reducing the number of rinses reduces water usage—an issue that has been in the news for years and is making headlines again in the wake of the Cape Town water crisis.
“Our technology collapses the foam and consumers can use 50% less water,” he told Happi. “Sustainability is critical to Dow.”
For more on the ACI Annual Meeting & Industry Convention, click here.