Natural Surfactants - APG outlook remains rosy

Natural surfactants – APG outlook remains rosy

The sustainability movement continues to gain momentum within suppliers of chemicals and ingredients to the personal care industry increasingly focusing on establishing competence as a sustainable or green player in the industry. One facet of sustainability, ‘naturals’ continues to drive growth within the industry.

The natural personal care market at brand level grew by over 8% in the USA during 2009 despite the recession, a similar scenario in other regions battling with the economic downturn. In turn personal care ingredients have benefited from consumer desire to use natural products.

One area within personal care which has been historically a ‘non-natural’ business is surfactants. Specialty surfactants are typically used to confer mildness, thus reducing skin and eye irritation which sometimes occurs with commodity surfactants, and boost foam in formulations. However, sustainable and naturally derived surfactants are now gaining traction in the mass personal care market. Natural surfactants at a global level are on average growing at around 4%, in contrast to their synthetic counterparts whose outlook is less rosy at 2%.

The key ‘natural’ specialty surfactant is alkyl polyglucoside (APG), supplied by Cognis, Shanghai Fine Chemical, Shenzhen Changyuan Jiacai, etc. APGs are manufactured from plant-derived materials such as vegetable oils and starch.

Consumption of APGs have grown significantly in recent years due to the naturals trend, consumption in both Japan and China for example has doubled in the last 5 years and forecast growth significantly exceeds the average prediction for specialty surfactants within personal care applications.

With Cognis’ recent announcement regarding their new production facility in Jinshan, China for APG capacity to enhance supply from their two existing plants in Düsseldorf, Germany and Cincinnati, USA, Cognis will be readily positioned to capture the growing demand predicted in Asia and further boost their position as a leading player for APGs.

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