02 June 2010 17:33 [Source: ICIS news]
By Heidi Finch
LONDON (ICIS news)--Due to the recession, cost-cutting measures in all areas of everyday life are at the forefront of consumers’ minds and consequently even the notion of home-made detergent has recently washed to the surface.
According to an online recipe, the following will produce an effective detergent: “4 cups of water, 1/3 bar of cheap soap grated, ½ cup of washing soda (not baking soda), ½ cup of Borax, 5-gallon bucket for mixing, 3 gallons of water”.
Despite the economic downturn, however, detergents in ?xml:namespace>
Some argue that overall detergents consumption is relatively recession-proof, as the need to clean is not a luxury.
Any negative impact on detergents demand due to the economic downturn has been minimal, say detergent manufacturers. There has, however, been a shift in buying patterns over the last year, with many consumers switching from more expensive, branded to cheaper, non-branded products.
Views on how long this shift will last are mixed. One source suggested the switch will stay for the foreseeable future, as European consumers remain cautious about spending, particularly given uncertainty about the Greek debt crisis.
However, another player said it sees a move back towards the pre-crisis status quo, following signs of a general market recovery and restored consumer confidence.
In the first half of 2010, demand has been better than expected, according to several detergent players.
This was illustrated by Cognis’ first quarter 2010 results in the care chemicals sector, where sales were 10% higher than the same period in 2009.
The improvement in demand was linked to a general recovery in the market and some stock replenishment, following the de-stocking seen at the end of 2008 and into 2009.
One surfactants manufacturer added that the loss of Shell’s ethoxylation production at
Shell had permanently shut down its NEODOL ethoxylates unit at
Croda also operated other ethoxylated assets at
Looking further afield, another surfactants player said demand was increasing on a global scale, particularly in developing countries such as the Middle East and Africa, central Europe and
In addition, the recent rapid appreciation of the US dollar against the euro provided European manufacturers with some interesting export opportunities.
One surfactants manufacturer in southern Europe said it had seen some improved demand for exports to the Middle East and
Sources said the recession was not really an issue - it was more feedstock supply constraints that were limiting momentum in the surfactants sector.
There was limited availability in several upstream products used in detergents. The European EO market was short in May and was expected to tighten further in June, due partly to a heavy turnaround programme that was afoot for the main sellers.
A similar picture was emerging in the propylene oxide (PO) market, where a number of plant maintenances in May/June was limiting both
Detergents producers may worry where their product will come from amid a tight feedstock situation, but at least they can be confident of modest growth in demand despite the economic downturn, based on the assumption that people will always need detergents in one form or the other. And when times get tough, at least we know we always have the option of making our own homemade detergents.
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