SURFACTANT MARKET UPDATE
microbiome. That’s all wrapped into sur-
factants and managing to cleanse skin
Divya Namjoshi, Ajinomoto North
America, was even more emphatic in
“Environmental concern has caused
the paradigm shift in the industry, as
consumers are opting for more natural,
green, environmentally-friendly and biodegradable alternatives,” explained
is the future,
are pushing the
options and in-
novations by the
companies in the
that shift, said
of BASF, is social
media and online
research that are
ers more discern-
ing about their
“Natural/green and ‘free-from’ claims
continue to grow, as consumers seek
products free from perceivably harmful
chemicals,” explained Miller. “As a result,
we see a shift toward natural surfactants.”
But the drive for greener raw materials
has hit a speed bump in the past few years
as a drop in oil prices removed the incentive to switch to bio-based raw materials,
according to some suppliers.
“As a result, many of the upstart bio-based companies have struggled to survive and those that did may not have been
able to commercialize their innovations as
quickly as they would have liked,” according to Rick Hanson of Croda.
Tim Arundel of Cedar Concepts noted
that the shift toward green, sustainable
surfactants has accelerated due to new
GHS standards, and regulatory initiatives
such as DfE and RSPO.
“We have seen a steady interest in
biomass alternatives as opposed to oleo
synthetic. Due to prices though, those
interests have not necessarily translated
into large quantity sales,” he explained.
“Interest will continue to grow, but a
physical shift will not occur until prices of
sustainable and green products can compete with current formulations along with
a sustainable supply chain.”
A Price Must Be Paid
Victor Low of Lonza Personal Care agreed.
He noted that the interest for more“nat-urally-derived” alternatives exists but the
demand is not as high for surfactant ingredients as compared to other components within a formulation.
“Not all customers are willing to pay a
premium for ‘natural and green,’” he said.
“Smaller or mid-sized companies tend
to invest more into these developments.
Central European and Scandinavian
countries are spearheading the concept
‘natural, green and sustainable.’”
Meanwhile, multinational companies are
switching back and forth between oleo- and
petrochemicals in order to keep the costs low
and to maximize margin, according to Low.
“The cost-performance ratio, in re-
gards to both cleansing properties and
formulation aesthetics, remains the pri-
mary focus for manufacturers utilizing
Despite the stumble in biomass-
derived demands, Hanson said demand
continues to grow for renewable or non-
tion that bio-based
is better for the
“In many situa-
tions bio-based raw
materials, when de-
rivatized, can deliver
than a petro chemical
based material, allow-
ing a slightly higher
price to be paid,” he
said. “For the con-
sumer, bio-based or
are often perceived as
better for the environ-
ment as well as being
less hazardous, which
lends itself to a more favorable perception
of the products.”
To help fuel demand for these prod-
ucts, Croda will soon commission the
first bioethanol to EO plant in North
America. It will enable Croda to produce
100% renewable, 100% bio-based sur-
factants, according to the company.
Namjoshi of Ajinomoto North
America said surfactants have always
been a massive part of the company’s
“All of our products, including surfactants, emollients, humectants and functional ingredients, are amino acid-based.
(They) fit well in the growing trends in
the industry, be it the sulfate-free, natural,
biodegradable, ecofriendly, multicultural
or PEG-free trend,” she said.
Mild surfactants remain in high demand for shampoos and personal cleansers.