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In The News: multifunctional deo, new plant waters for skincare, specialty chemical distribution deals, packaging acquisition

Unilever launches whole-body deo and an under-arm deodorant that also addresses skin discoloration, Groupe Berkem adds two new ingredients to H2OLIXIR line, Azelis buys Oktrade and announces new CEO after a long string of acquisitions, packaging co MAX Solutions buys Canada-based Bellwyck.

Photo by Tomáš Malík on Unsplash

In The News week of January 15, 2024


💋🧪Unilever goes after underarm discoloration & more

This week the beauty maker’s Shea Moisture brand launched a deodorant brand—whole body and underarm—designed especially for “rich melanin skin.”


The new product line comprises 6 varieties of antiperspirant stick deodorants as well as stick and cream versions of whole body deodorant. Starting in February, these will be available at mass market retailers: Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and CVS.


The Even Tone version of the antiperspirant is, according to this week’s press release, “made with Vitamin C & Niacinamide to help visibly even skin tone with daily use.”


Shea Moisture is certainly not the first brand to address underarm discoloration (indie brands including Forgotten Skincare have made inroads) or whole body deo (here Lume, acquired by Harry’s in late 2021 comes to mind). And such products are in demand across consumer demographic groups. But Shea Moisture is uniquely positioned to serve consumers (in these categories and others) with melanin-rich skin.


In her remarks to the media this week Dawn Williams-Thompson, Head of North America Personal Care Design for Retail & Local Brand Development at Unilever, reminds us that

“SheaMoisture was one of the first brands to launch innovative products crafted with culturally authentic natural ingredients to care for textured hair.”


And she goes on to explain that, “this is the first deodorant range that really works for underarms and your whole body, and is designed primarily for rich melanin skin. This reaffirms SheaMoisture's priority of developing no compromise beauty products to help her live her healthiest, most beautiful life.”

🪻💧new Plant Waters

This week, chemical manufacturer Groupe Berkem added two new ingredients to its health, beauty, and nutrition business. “The extension of our H2OLIXIR range is further proof of Groupe Berkem's ability to innovate in a market where naturalness and performance are key themes,” says Eric Moussu, Vice President of Sales, in Monday’s press release.


“Thanks to these two new solutions,” he continues, “we intend to address new, high value-added segments of the cosmetics market, while guaranteeing our customers their natural, organic properties and sourcing in France.”


The new ingredients are a Lavender Water and a Thyme Water. About a year ago the company launched its H2OLIXIR line with a Peppermint Water and Lemon Balm Water. They also have an expansive line of floral waters (Jasmine Flower Water, Orange Flower Water, Green Tea Water, Carrot Water, etc.)


The H2OLIXIR line of ingredients require no water in production (unlike conventional extracts which require reverse-osmosis), can take the place of INCI water in product formulas, and “[preserve] the benefits of the original plants.”


Those benefits, for the Lavender Water include “soothing and antioxidant action,” and for the Thyme Water, “antioxidant action [and] purifying properties.”


💋🧪Beauty Buy

In December, specialty chemical distributor Azelis acquired Oktrade, a Turkey-based distributor of personal care ingredients.


For Azelis, the deal is a move “to become a leader in this fast-growing market,” adding to the company’s lab capabilities and technical sales team in the that country. Oktrade was founded in 2017; and the distributor’s Founder and Managing Director Oktay Öztürk tells the press that, “joining Azelis marks a new milestone in our company's development.”


“Our ambition,” he says, “is to become a leader in the Turkish personal care market thanks to our shared commitment to offering our customers the most innovative solutions and high-quality products. Leveraging Azelis’ expertise and network will enable us to achieve this goal.”


The deal is one in a string of global acquisitions for Belgium-based Azelis Group:

This time last year, Azelis acquired Netherlands-based Smoky Light, a distributor of what are known as smoke, grill, and browning agents as well as cooking flavors for the food industry. Also in January of 2023, they acquired Lidorr Elements, a distributor based in Israel and serving primarily the crop-protection, industrial materials, and care and nutrition sectors.


This past April, the company bought Brazil-based distributor of food, nutrition, and animal nutrition ingredients Vogler. And in May, they announced acquisition of Netherlands-based personal care chemicals distributor Sirius International. (Sirius also serves the detergent and water treatment industries.) That same month, the company bought US-based Gillco Ingredients, which supplies primarily the food, beverage, and nutraceuticals industries. 


In October, the company acquired 100% of BLH shares, aFrance-based company is known for distributing flavor and fragrances, especially in the fine perfumery sector.


And the Oktrade deal was not Azelis’ only acquisition in December. The company also bought Localpack, a Colombia-based distributor of chemicals for industries including paints and coatings, plastic and rubber, construction, polymerization, and more.


Those are just the 2023 acquisitions. Now this year, the company has a new CEO and every indication is that she will continue with a similar strategy: “I am delighted to have been appointed to lead Azelis as CEO,” said Anna Bertona in her comments to the press last August, when the executive transition was announced. “I look forward to building on the impressive journey Azelis has had under Jochen’s tenure and leading Azelis in the next chapter of exciting growth and development.”


Bertona has “worked at Azelis for almost a decade, most recently as CEO and President EMEA since 2016,” according to that August press release. In that role, “she strengthened relationships with principals, invested in innovation capabilities, and grew the EMEA business from €749m (2016) to €1,812m (2022), through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions.”


🧰Team Building📈

This month, the tech-forward specialty packaging company MAX Solutions announced the acquisition of Canada-based Bellwyck. “Over the past 17 years, John Vella and Jeff Sziklai, Co-CEOs and owners of Bellwyck, have built a dynamic company whose greatest asset is the dedicated and talented people who helped to make it a success,” says MAX Solutions CEO Marc Shore, in a press release circulated on 8 January.


 And he adds, “We look forward to leveraging the best of both organizations which will create opportunities for our customers, employees and enhance our future growth and success.”


MAX Solutions got its start in 2021 and is headquartered in Pennsylvania (US). And the company, produces packaging for not only cosmetics and personal care but also food and beverage, confectionary, wine and spirits, pharma, nutraceuticals, electronics, music, gaming, and more. MAX Solutions prides itself on the “next-generation technology” that powers the company’s capabilities across pre-press, printing, die-cutting, and finishing.


And MAX is similarly enthusiastic about being a “material neutral” packaging maker. The company’s website notes that, “we never constrain creativity by limiting what the end solution should look like, or how it should be made. We put forth the best solution to our customers regardless of format, material or process. If we need to partner, outsource or acquire new capabilities to deliver what you need – we’ll do that.” Solutions the company provides regularly comprise folding cartons, labels, rigid boxes, paper foam, etc.


PaperFoam good example of a material and format that is available because of a partnership. PaperFoam is both a material innovation and a company that  Max has formed a joint venture with. The company makes biodegradable and compostable packaging inserts from plant-based fibers—these are the sort of custom-formed inserts that would commonly be plastic.


Now, following the acquisition of BELLWYCK Packaging Solutions, Jeff Sziklai and John Vella will remain on as advisors. And as much as the deal is about growth, it also seems to be about partnerships and people. In a joint statement to the press, Sziklai and Vella stress that “Bellwyck Packaging has always been about great people and great clients; and joining the MAX Solutions Team will enhance our offerings to customers, broaden opportunities for our employees and be a strong catalyst for growth into the future.”


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