Industry responds to coronavirus pandemic

In these unprecedented times of social and industrial upheaval, the personal care industry continues to operate and, as we have seen already, some great minds have worked together in order to make the world a safer place for medics and others. This article will include examples of how companies and individuals are overcoming the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak and will be regularly updated

UPDATES FROM 26 MARCH:

Global soap base and speciality ingredients manufacturer, Stephenson, is taking steps to help support cosmetic brands and manufacturers in their production of soap bars around the world during the ongoing coronavirus crisis from its head office and manufacturing facility in Leeds, UK. Demand for its soap bases is building as the need for hygiene products intensifies across the world.

Sales and marketing Director, James Clews said: “The company is now experiencing a surge in client demand right across our range of soap bases, as hand washing increases around the globe and is certainly something we're ready for.

“The sales process can carry a long latency, as with soap products, it can take several months to arrive at its destination. We're certainly hearing lots of questions around capacity and are we ready to scale up when we need to.”

Stephenson launched its new soap free syndet called Syndopal last year, with interest intensifying since the outbreak at the beginning of this year.

The product's pH 5.5-6.5 noodle base produces an ultra-mild feel ensuring superior cleansing, which is essential for cosmetic brands and manufacturers in their production of soap bars around the world.


UPDATES FROM 25 MARCH:

George Rosson, managing director of Natura-Tec informed Personal Care of his team's efforts to implement measures to ensure safety of staff while maintaining manufacturing output of Natura-Tec's portfolio of natural ingredients. In addition, the company has worked together to put in place laboratory-scale production of hand sanitiser in order to supply the local town hall free of charge. Natura-Tec are producing 20L-40L a week for civil servants and the police force in Frejus, France, who were previously suffering from limited stocks of sanitiser and are looking to supply the local hospital too.


Stefan Lander, vice president Consumer Goods, Group Sales & Marketing at Omya International, has released the following statement: "The Corona pandemia is a global issue, with different countries all implementing their own restrictions and regulations. Our top priority, however, will always be the safety and wellbeing of our employees. Uncertainty is obviously a huge factor right now, but the Omya crisis management team is on constant alert, globally connected and well prepared.

All Omya plants meet top technological standards and are highly automated too. However, shifts have been reorganized to ensure that the number of people working in production areas is reduced as much as possible. To avoid contamination, we have implemented further internal procedures to guarantee maximum safety levels. A secure supply is assured, as our household and personal care ingredients are processed in ten different production facilities worldwide. Further contingency plans are also in place.

Taking advantage of a worldwide internal network, we have already arranged back-up solutions for our customers by utilising supplies from different countries and continents. Some of our customers have already taken benefit of this service.

We are in close contact with our logistics provider to ensure continuous supply. The Omya crisis management team is also working on alternative solutions where necessary.

To ensure safety, travelling restrictions have been enforced. However, having switched to a largely digital work mode, we are still able to give our clients the best possible technical assistance.

The safety of all colleagues is key, along with our ability to support clients with their current needs. We are able to do both by reducing the lab staff on site as far as possible. Thanks to our progressive working culture, many of our employees already work flexibly from home, so here there’s no real change."


We have received an update from South Korea, with this statement from Equipforskin's CEO, Peter Jung: "We are fine here in S. Korea where most of the regular things are quite normal now and gradually being stabilized after 2 months of Covid -19 outbreak.

"Since this COVID-19 outbreak is going to affect personal care business operations seriously, maybe the online sales and marketing platforms will need to be more and better prepared like SNS marketing or webinars and also B to C platforms in both marketing and logistics rather than B to B ones.

"If any topical products in personal care can be developed for personal care hygiene, it will be more than great."


UPDATES FROM 24 MARCH:


Fitz Chem Nagase has updated customers regarding its operations during the pandemic with a statement from President, Mark Miller: "Fitz Chem Nagase has now moved completely to a remote working protocol for all Order Fulfillment, Supply Chain and Administrative functions, with Leadership maintaining a presence at the Itasca, IL HQ. We continue to operate in a normal cadence and there will be no change necessary to your order placement practices and communication with Customer Service, or with our Purchasing regimen with our Suppliers. Second, while necessary governmental work and travel restrictions have been imposed to protect the welfare of all, the chemical industry and chemical distribution have been deemed part of the “essential critical infrastructure” in the USA (https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce) and we remain open to service you. Indeed, our warehouses are operational and shipments have not been impaired, though we are observing more issues with carriers. On this last point, we will need to work together in a flexible manner to ensure your deliveries." 


Gelest has announced that it is ramping up the production of its Biosafe Antimicrobials to meet surging demand. Biosafe Antimicrobials are found in a wide range of EPA-approved applications among them: Certainty SmartBoost Laundry Additive for healthcare uniforms, NWA Quat Keeper Foodservice Towels for restaurants and cafeterias, and King Microshield for medical equipment and facilities. 


Natural oil supplier, Naissance, has updated customers on the impact of coronavirus but reassures them that the pressure on supply chains is being avoided where possible: "As we are aware the current pandemic with Covid-19 is affecting life and business as we know it. Our thoughts are with the families who have been affected by the virus and we hope that the crisis is brought under control soon. In order to help curb the spread many businesses in our industry are doing what they can to limit social interactions whilst still having the unprecedented pressures to keep supermarket shelves stocked with much needed personal care wash products. These increased demands are not only putting pressures on the manufacturing efforts, but they are also putting pressures on the vital raw material supply chain.

"Here at Naissance Natural Ingredients (NNI) we have a strong readily available stock holding and secure supply chain for a broad range of natural and organic raw materials. Our teams are working tirelessly to ship orders and support regulatory requests to ensure our industry is supported in its fight to support our nations."


We have also heard from Elijah Stone, Business Development at Kumar Organic Products in New Jersey, who informed us: "As a manufacturer and supplier of raw ingredients that can go into a wide range of personal care products , we are working to ensure that companies can continue producing such products. We realize the importance of personal care products, especially the ones that help keep people clean! In particular, our anti-bacterial ingredients have been in high demand recently due to the Coronavirus.

"We are doing our best to shell out massive amounts of our antibacterial ingredients that go into soaps and hand sanitizers. Our customers are eager to produce in this difficult time and we are eager to provide. We hope that our efforts will contribute to “defeating” the Covid 19 crisis. Kumar will persevere as a supplier and manufacturer in hopes that our customers will persevere as well!"


UPDATES FROM 23 MARCH:


We have heard from Dani Loughran of Aston Chemicals in the UK: "We have given all of our N-95 face masks from lab/warehouse to our local GP surgery and community midwives, and rung around other local businesses who have also donated disposable goggles. We've also asked all of our Chinese suppliers if they can source any more face masks which we can ship to the UK for our local NHS services. We are also making as much hand sanitiser gel as we can for friends in the NHS."


From Basildon Chemicals in the UK: "Our fantastic chemists have developed a hand sanitiser that we can manufacture here in Abingdon. we’re very hopeful that we will soon be able to give this to our staff, their families and key workers and vulnerable people in our local community."


A business in Mexborough, UK, supplying ingredients for candle and soap making is offering a free litre bottle of soap to vulnerable people in the local area to help combat shortages in local shops and supermarkets.

Nicky Story, owner of Supplies for Candles in Swinton said: “Advice from the government and health professionals is that washing your hands with hot water and soap is one of the best ways to help prevent Coronavirus spread. However, locally, we are seeing shortages of soap and hand sanitiser on supermarket shelves.

“We want to help make sure that the elderly and vulnerable in our community have access to the products they need to stay safe, and anyone who is over 70, pregnant or has an ongoing health condition living in our local area is welcome to collect a free litre bottle of a specially formulated extra strength liquid soap from our warehouse in Swinton.”

The soap is manufactured by Yorkshire firm Stephenson Group. Nicky says he has over 18 tonnes available, which means there is plenty to go around and no need for people to panic.

“There’s a lot of worry and uncertainty at the moment, and at times like this I feel it’s important for us to do what we can to support our local communities,” he says. “We will not allow the vulnerable to be forgotten in our area when there is something we can do to help.”