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The global pandemic has thrown the spotlight on the cleaning and hygiene industry like never before. While in the early days of the crisis attention was naturally focused on keeping hospitals, care homes and other essential services as safe as possible, attention is now turning to offices, schools and factories and what specific measures are needed to ensure all buildings are as safe as possible.

As a recent report from Oakland Innovation1 concludes, the pandemic may have created a “permanent paradigm shift in attitudes to hygiene whether in the home, at the office or on-the-go”. It anticipates that the current heightened consumer awareness of the importance of hygiene, inside and outside of the home, will continue after the pandemic passes and that hygiene standards will rise in places of employment, education, leisure and travel.

Huge demand

unscrupulous profiteers primarily selling online are launching new products on the market often with an exceptionally high mark-up

The enormous global demand for cleaning and hygiene products that we are witnessing has created its own set of problems for the industry.

As the UK Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) says2, the fragility of the just-in-time supply chain has been exposed by this huge demand given that unremitting downward pressure on prices has led to the outsourcing of manufacture to lower cost-base economies in recent decades. It says, in the case of the UK market, that the time has now come to focus on product availability and to establish manufacture in the UK and Europe.

However, supply chain issues aren’t the only concern. As CHSA add, unscrupulous profiteers primarily selling online are launching new products on the market often with an exceptionally high mark-up and no guarantee that they meet industry standards.

For example, it says there has been a marked increase in imported Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with fake or no CE marking, the certification mark that indicates conformance with European Union directives regarding health and safety or environmental protection.

Safety concerns

EU countries have been easing laws to fast-track market access to new disinfectant products

Also, as a report from Politico3 cites, under pressure from consumers and hospitals desperate for products that can kill coronavirus, EU countries have been easing laws to fast-track market access to new disinfectant products, something that normally needs lengthy authorisation.

This acceleration of the process has prompted new players in the production of disinfectants. However, while most of the intentions are good, it reports that the outcomes can be mixed. National regulators across Europe warn that there’s been an increase in the number of ineffective disinfectant products, some containing hazardous substances or lacking approval, as well as more people mishandling products.

Against this backdrop, the development of effective and safe solutions to combat viruses will be critical in the months and years ahead.

As Oakland says, there is “a significant opportunity for those operating in the hygiene and cleaning categories to leverage this emerging science and technology and to draw inspiration from it for the development of the next generation of products”.

1: Oakland Innovation: How will Covid-19 change consumer attitudes and behaviours in respect to hygiene and cleaning, and can we expect to see a new generation of innovations in the market?
2: https://www.chsa.co.uk/a-new-deal-for-the-cleaning-hygiene-supply-chain/
3: https://www.politico.eu/article/illegal-disinfectants-on-the-rise-as-new-players-flood-the-market/
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