Unilever and Solazyme announced today the incorporation of algal oils into Unilever’s Lux brand soap (branded Caress in the US), which Unilever says is the world’s best-selling bar soap. The move aligns with Unilever’s ambition to double the size of its business while reducing its overall environmental footprint, as part of which Unilever has made a commitment to using only sustainably sourced agricultural raw materials by 2020.
Solazyme’s algal oils are derived from sustainably cultivated, oil-producing microalgae that are produced in a matter of days using a fermentation process designed to produce oils of the highest purity and performance. In September, Unilever and Solazyme announced a commercial supply agreement for the first partnered Solazyme Tailored™ Algal Oil, a culmination of five years of collaboration between the companies, which Unilever said it would use in its Dove and Brylcreem brand personal care products. Today’s announcement comes after the successful completion of product validation trials, which took place in Q4 2013. Unilever says Lux will be the world’s first soap brand to be made with algal oil.
“Through incorporating Algal Oils into our Lux products, we have a unique opportunity to make a difference on a large scale, as we help develop a raw material that we know has been responsibly sourced,” said Lux Global Brand Vice President Anne Radmacher. “Using Algal Oils creates a win-win situation: Not only do we deliver better products to our consumers, but we also help the planet in the process.”
Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson, added: “This announcement of the incorporation of our Algal Oils into Unilever’s consumer soap products that are on shelves today in Brazil is a very exciting moment for Solazyme. Unilever’s commitment to commercializing these soap products means that they will continue to lead the way in offering consumers the best-performing and most sustainable products available.”
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Unilever says the use of algal oils in this initial trial is just the first step in Lux’s long-term plan of leveraging this raw material.
Unilever and Solazyme have been collaborating for five years on multiple projects, culminating in the aforementioned supply agreement last fall covering the first of the companies' jointly developed tailored oils, with an initial supply of at least 10,000 metric tons. Unilever says the majority of the oil for the soap products will be produced in the new renewable oils facility in Moema, Brazil; the CPG giant expects to purchase the full volume within twelve to eighteen months.
Earlier this month, cleaning products giant Ecover announced it is developing an algae-based laundry liquid as part of its goal to cut the use of palm oil in all of its products. Ecover only uses RSPO-certified palm oil, which ensures more sustainable sourcing. But as demand for the ubiquitous and increasingly beleaguered oil has increased, the company says it sought out a less impactful alternative.