10/05/2016 15h12

Cargill develops soybean oil as a cosmetic product

Valor International

A stage after the manufacture of soybean oil could allow the American company Cargill, known for its operation in agribusiness, to gain relevance in the market of personal care. Research by the multinational has led to a new level of purity for plant oils that make up the formulas for shampoos, sunscreens, creams and even makeup. With this, the company could capture between 12% and 15% of the market for plant oils in Brazil through 2020,  when it estimates it will reach the peak of its production.

Cosmetic plant oils are biodegradable, have a light texture on the skin and are less likely to provoke allergic reactions.  There is a growing interest in the ingredient in industry, says Paulo Hoffmann, general manager of Cargill Industrial Specialties.

With investments of $300,000 for tests and adaptation of the process at the factory in Mairique (São Paulo), and a year and a half of research, Cargill has raised the stability of plant oil to three years from six months, without the use of metals or antioxidants. This means that the shelf life is the same or even greater than those derived from mineral and synthetic materials. “We had a significant technical development,” Mr. Hoffmann says.

The technology patented by Cargill can be applied to any type of vegetable oil, like canola, sunflower seed, palm or corn. Depending on the chemical specifications, it’s even possible to combine them, says Cintia Baradel, a cosmetology expert who is the company’s account manager. “In addition to soybeans being one of the most abundant and cheapest grains in Brazil, its oil is one of the most difficult to stabilize, so that’s why we started with it,” she says. The company didn’t disclose the input’s cost.

This first production run will take place this month and the estimate is that 150,000 tonnes per month will be refined through April 2017.  The company plans to gradually increase the manufacture until it reaches the mark of 1,000-1,500 tonnes monthly by 2020, with sales of $18 million per day.  The production capacity in Mairinque is enough to meet the demand in Brazil and South America. The technology can be replicated by other global units of Cargill.

The technology for manufacture of cosmetic plant oils was developed in Brazil and counted on the help of the company’s labs in the US during the final phase of testing. Cargill has a product development center in Mairinque and an innovation unit in Campinas, both in the interior of São Paulo.

In 2015, due to a revision of its global strategy, the company decided to bet on the segment of industrial applications, which today represents 10% to 12% of global profits. In the next five years, the goal is to triple earnings and reach near $420 million.

In 4 years, the area of personal care in Brazil should represent 20% to 25% of sales for the area of industrial oils at Cargill, which also includes automotive biolubricants, paint, and transformer fluid.  “The company wants to be a reference and leader in personal care, remembered as the first choice in ecological products,” says Mr. Hoffman.

In the 2016 fiscal year, ended in May, the net profit of Cargill reached $2.38 billion, 50% above that registered in the previous fiscal year. The adjusted earnings,  which considered the sale of the pork business unit and other items, totaled $1.64 billion, representing a decline of 15%.