Surfactant suppliers to the extremely price-sensitive North American personal care market need to allay the problem of rising feedstock costs through product customization. Market participants have to concentrate especially on high-growth areas such as skin care, ethnic hair care, body washes, and male grooming products as well as niche segments.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (chemicals.frost.com), North American Personal Care Surfactants Market, reveals that the market earned revenues of $922 million in 2006 and estimates this to reach $1182.1 million in 2013.
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Changing lifestyle, greater health awareness, and an ageing population have augmented the need for skin care products. Consumers are showing marked preference for products with multiple benefits such as moisturizers that double up as sunscreens. Surfactants that help achieve these multifunctionalities are in huge demand and enhance market revenue.
However, this growth is likely to run into some roadblocks due to the escalating prices of petrochemical feedstock. To remain cost competitive in the commoditized market, surfactant suppliers are resorting to the use of the more economical natural ingredients.
“The practice of using natural oils is expected to gain momentum with the implementation of legislations restricting the use of 1, 4-Dioxane, Diethanolamide,” says Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Chidambaran G. Iyer. “It will gain further boost with the adoption of regulations such as Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) that encourage environment-friendly formulations.”
Surfactant companies have taken advantage of the demand for biodegradable, natural, and sustainable products and begun to use palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil in surfactants. The popularity of natural surfactants is evident from the rapid growth of surfactants used in sulfate-free products.
Few surfactant suppliers offer products derived from vegetable sources, though these formulations are likely to experience the highest growth in the personal care surfactants market. Since natural oils are also in great demand in the biofuels segment, there is a shortage of supply and rise in prices from the supply side for surfactant suppliers.
“The need of the hour is to find a suitable technology to process other sustainable resources to produce surfactants,” notes Iyer. “This can reduce the dependence on natural oils or refined crude oil products, which can lead to better margins in the long term.”
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