Cold-water detergent market struggles despite environmental benefits as 38% of world's loads are washed in cold water, P&G and Henkel offer cold-water detergents; P&G aims to convert 70% of loads to cold water by 2020, says executive

Sandy Yang

Sandy Yang

Sep 19, 2011 – Industry Intelligence

LOS ANGELES , September 19, 2011 () – Consumers are continuing to wash laundry loads with warm water despite environmental benefits of using cold-water detergents and manufacturers’ offerings of detergent specifically used for cold water, as skepticism of their cleaning capacity lingers, The New York Times reported Sept. 16.

Germany’s Henkel AG, which sells cold-water detergents under its Persil and Purex brands, reported a 16% drop in cold-water detergent sales in the U.S. in 2010.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) reported a 5% boost in U.S. sales but the company has been stagnating in the past few years.

Although heating water accounts for 75% of the energy used and the greenhouse gases emitted when washing a load of laundry, consumers continue to use warm water.

According to Dr. Thomas Mueller-Kirschbaum, Henkel’s senior vice president for research and development, the benefits of energy savings are not immediate to the consumers, and benefits such as stain removal claims and pricing are much more significant drivers for detergent sales, reported the newspaper.

Kiem Ho, director of Henkel’s laundry care segment, said government incentives and an industrywide campaign would help the industry grow beyond the current niche market of cold-water detergents.

Mueller-Kirschbaum said consumer education would prove the most effective in modifying behavior toward adopting cold-water washing instead of advertising. In Germany, research has found that the average washing temperature has inched up by roughly a degree a year.

P&G released its Tide Coldwater detergent in 2005 and aims to convert 70% of laundry loads to cold water by 2020. Currently, only 38% of loads worldwide are done in cold water, but the company remains optimistic, as this shows an increase from only 30% of laundry loads in 2005, reported The New York Times.

Tide Coldwater was one of Consumer Reports’ top ranked detergents in 2010, and its annual sales have reached US$60 million in Canada and $150 million in the U.S. In comparison, regular Tide accounted for $1 billion in U.S. sales last year.

The primary source of this article is The New York Times, New York, New York, on Sept. 16, 2011.

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