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Ingredients & formulation

BASF’s new acrylic acid complex in Bahia to supply raw material for the production of diapers and sanitary napkins in Brazil

"Despite the challenging economic environment, we believe in the country’s potential," says Sebastian Guarachi, Business Director Hygiene South America, BASF.

Sebastian Guarachi, Business Director Hygiene South America, (...)

Sebastian Guarachi, Business Director Hygiene South America, BASF

Brazil is the third largest world market for disposable diapers, behind only the U.S. and China. According to data from Nielsen, diaper sales totaled R$4.06 billion in 2013 – 14.8% up compared to 2012 –, hitting almost 6.5 billion units sold. The sanitary napkin category has also increased. In 2013, it recorded sales of R$1.79 billion – 11.8% higher than in the previous year – and exceeded 6 billion units sold.

The Brazilian personal care industry has recently received a significant boost to meet this demand. With 150 years of history and over a century of operations in South America, German multinational BASF inaugurated its new acrylic acid complex in Camaçari, Bahia, in June. The new venture is set to produce 160,000 tons of acrylic acid, butyl acrylate and superabsorbent polymers (SAP), "mainly used in personal care products such as baby diapers, adult diapers, and sanitary napkins," says BASF’s business director of hygiene for South America, Sebastian Guarachi.

A SAP can absorb as much as 500 times its own mass in water. Due to its salt content, urine can be absorbed at up to 50 times its own mass. "Disposable products are continuously improving to meet customers’ requirements as well as becoming thinner and lighter. Diapers today are only about 4mm to 5mm thick and weigh approximately 35g, well below the 100g they used to weigh in the 1980s,” says Guarachi.

The industrial complex began construction in 2012 and received R$2 billion in investments to secure national and regional supply of acrylic raw materials that were previously imported. All excess production will be exported to other Latin America countries. "The project will also have a positive impact on Brazil’s trade balance. It should contribute to a surplus of around US$300 million per year – US$200 million as a result of reduced imports and another US$100 million as a result of increased exports to other countries,” says Guarachi.

BASF's new complex in Camaçari

BASF’s new complex in Camaçari

The choice of Camaçari as the site for BASF’s new plant was a strategic decision. The Camaçari Industrial Cluster has been operating for 37 years with annual revenues of US$15 billion. With a solid logistics infrastructure and easy access to raw materials, it houses over 90 companies, including Braskem – the largest producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas –, which will provide 100% of the propylene used by BASF.

The establishment of the chemical company in Camaçari has also attracted new investments to the region. U.S. multinational Kimberly-Clark, owner of the brands Intimus and Huggies Turma da Mônica, invested R$100 million in the opening of a plant in the Camaçari cluster in 2013. Two years later, it expanded with new machinery for the production of diapers and sanitary napkins.

With the start of operations in the acrylic acid complex, BASF forecasts a growth of 2% in 2016, the same as recorded in the last two years. "BASF is a company with long-term goals and we plan our investments based on our vision of the market in 10 years’ time. Despite the challenging economic environment, we believe in the Brazil’s potential,” says Guarachi. BASF plans to reach revenues of €9 billion in South America by 2025. Out of the €74 billion recorded by the company in 2014, South America’s share was only 5%.

Renata Martins

© 2015 - Brazil Beauty News -

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