California-based biotechnology firm Solazyme recently extended its commercial agreement with consumer care giant, Unilever. The two companies have been working together since 2009 to leverage Solazyme’s tailored algal oils* for use in Unilever’s soap and personal care products.*
Upon completion of the development agreement, the two parties will enter a multi-year supply agreement that calls for Solazyme to supply Unilever with commercial quantities of renewable oil. That will help Unilever further lay the groundwork for its Sustainable Living Plan, under which it aims to derive 100% of its agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources by 2020. The extension of the partnership between Solazyme and Unilever underscores* the convergence* of synthetic biology and the personal care industry.
Although some personal care manufacturers have successfully charged a premium for their products, most green product manufacturers have not fared as well. During the recession, green products have experienced a higher drop in sales compared to conventional products, suggesting that although consumers want to appease their eco-conscience, they aren’t willing to sacrifice performance or price. Despite the growing number of green formulations, they still represent a small percentage of the overall market. Most manufacturers are focusing instead on bio-based packaging to position themselves as environmentally conscious, even going as far as to absorb the premium themselves. The trend is also* evident* in the food and beverage industry, and more recently the telecommunications industry.* As the recession tightens consumer spending, bio-based products must offer increased performance to incentivize consumers to make the switch.
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