It’s been three years since Procter & Gamble introduced DryMax, its completely fluffless diaper and since then the entire diaper market seems to be working on ways to reengineer their diapers to make them thinner, softer and more comfortable for babies.
According to industry experts, the move toward a thinner diaper has several advantages. Not only are they more discrete and comfortable to wear, they take up less shelf space and are less expensive to transport.
For P&G, this market innovation, announced in 2010 has been credited with capturing marketshare within its premium product lines, and many of its competitors have responded by reengineering their diapers.
“Yes the trend is that diapers are getting thinner especially in the western world. In emerging markets it is more regular diaper with fluff pulp,” says Jessica Olvestad, press and media officer of SCA. “The super thin diapers contain less fluff but a certain amount of fluff is still needed in order to hold the SAP in place. A thinner diaper is light weight and comfortable for the child, takes less material to produce, creates less waste, and takes up less space in transports and on the retail shelves.”
Olvestad adds that during the last 20 years the weight of the average diaper has been reduced 40%, which has had a positive impact on the environment, transportation and logistics.
Leading the charge toward these thinner diapers in Europe is Drylock. The Belgian producer of private label diapers recently secured a contract with Lidl, one of Europe’s biggest retailers with 11,000 outlets in 28 countries, to sell its Drylock fluffless diapers. With an average thickness between six and eight millimeters, Drylock has been taking the European private label market by storm, already commanding a 60% share in the German private label market, where it is positioned as a premium product, according to Bart Van Malderen, CEO of Drylock.
“In time, the diaper can go even thinner,” he says. “It doesn’t stop here. There are new raw materials in development that will allow this. Forty years ago, the standard diaper was made completely of fluff but today, most diapers have only a few grams of fluff at the most.”
Drylock produces the diapers through a patented system that allows for the even distribution of superabsorbent polymer through an ultrasonic bonding system. This technology allows DryLock to spread superabsorbent polymers evenly at high speeds without waste.
In addition to the revolutionary design, Drylock’s expansion throughout Asia has been aided by better opportunities for private label brands in Europe following Kimberly-Clark’s decision in late 2012 to exit the diaper business in much of Western and Central Europe .
The move reportedly came after years of struggles caused by lower birth rates and heightened competition and did not come as a surprise to many diaper industry observers.
At the time of K-C’s exit Pricie Hanna, principal of Price Hanna consultants, described the decision as an important strategic move for K-C because it frees up cash for continuing investment in higher growth emerging markets where the company has better scale, such as Latin America, and has experienced greater market success. “The impact on the diaper markets that they are exiting will be positive for private label diaper producers,” Hanna says.
“The strength of retailer brands in these countries combined with the lack of category growth is the reason why K-C was not able to achieve attractive profitability. K-C entered these markets too late when they were highly penetrated and had little growth prospects.”
DryLock’s Van Malderen says the exit has been good for private labelers. “In some countries private labels are stronger than brands and it is definitely getting stronger everywhere.”
Three years after introducing DryMax, in September Pampers launched major upgrades across its entire line of diapers, training pants and wipes. The company says these changes came after it interviewed more than 9,000 moms about what was important for their baby and found the number one unmet need is a diaper that provides superior overnight dryness.
Pampers incorporated this knowledge to design Pampers Swaddlers, which provide up to 12 hours of overnight protection. Touted as Pampers’ softest diaper and the number one choice of hospitals, according to the company, Pampers Swaddlers are now available through size 5.
“At Pampers, we strive to meet the needs of every mom and baby,” says Fama Francisco, Pampers vice president and general manager. “In the last 18 months, we’ve listened to thousands of moms on what they want for their baby. They told us a diaper that provides superior dryness, comfort and fit, particularly overnight.”
Also showing P&G’s innovation in diapers is Pampers Cruisers with 3-way fit designs.
“Pampers prides itself on being at the forefront of comfort and performance which is why we’re excited to introduce newly improved Pampers Cruisers with 3-Way Fit diapers,” says John Brase, Pampers’ marketing director. “Giving babies the freedom to play their way is not only important to their growth and development, but it’s also important to us. That’s why we continuously strive to make improvements to our products that parents, and babies, not only need, but ask for and delight in.”
Pampers Cruisers with 3-Way Fit diapers incorporate improvements that parents have asked for including a softer, quilted back-sheet similar to Pampers Swaddlers diapers available now in sizes 3, 4, and 5 and coming very soon in sizes 6 and 7, a 20% longer absorbent area and new Sesame Street designs.
Expansion in personal care
As Procter & Gamble innovates to maintain its leadership position and Kimberly-Clark focuses its efforts on markets where it knows it can succeed, a new private label rival is emerging in the personal care market.
During the past two years, paper maker Domtar has been ambitiously growing its presence in adult and baby diaper markets by acquiring a number baby and adult diaper makers. While executives have indicated that adult incontinence is in fact its star market, these efforts should have considerable impact on the disposable diaper market.
In July, Domtar acquired privately held Associated Hygienic Products (AHP), one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of store brand infant diapers in the U.S., from Disposable Soft Goods (DSG) International for $272 million. While executives hope the acquisition will help Domtar gain better access to retail channels for its adult incontinence business, it will undoubtedly give it instant entree into the disposable diaper market.
“The market for store brand infant diapers is growing steadily in North America driven by high quality products and a strong value proposition. The acquisition of AHP will provide meaningful market expansion opportunities and innovative product development capabilities with our existing personal care business, as well as synergies to the bottom line,” says John Williams, president and CEO of Domtar. “This will be our fourth transaction in personal care in two years, and with it the division will reach over $200 million in annualized EBITDA by 2017. This earnings runway is part of our company-wide goal of having $300-500 million in annualized EBITDA from growing businesses over the next four years.”
AHP manufactures and markets infant diapers in the U.S. with established long-term relationships in the retail distribution channels. AHP operates two large modern facilities—a 376,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Delaware, OH, and a 312,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Waco, TX. The company also has administrative offices and operates a distribution center in Duluth, GA. AHP has 621 employees and has annual run rate sales and EBITDA of $320 million and $31 million respectively. It is anticipated that the integration to Domtar’s personal care division will provide annualized synergies of $10 million within two years. The synergies will come from a combination of lower purchasing costs, a reduction in general and administrative costs and sharing of best practices in manufacturing and product development.
“This acquisition adds a key product line to our offering, a competitive manufacturing base to our existing footprint and solid access to the retail channels for our adult incontinence products,” says Michael Fagan, senior vice president, personal care, Domtar. “AHP invests heavily in research and development and brings to the marketplace quality products, a highly trained workforce and the know-how to service large retailers. I am also impressed with the substantial investments made in the past five years in the facilities which will limit the capital requirements for the foreseeable future.”
Domtar followed the AHP deal with the acquisition of Laboratorios Indas, a Spanish maker of adult and baby diapers. Executives say this deal will help broaden Domtar’s presence in the European adult incontinence market where it already operated a plant in Sweden.
A&Z Baby Goods
Brands: Hello Baby
Brands: SofT Tails, Babysec, Pañal Brazil plus
Associated Hygienic Products
South Plainfield, NJ
Brands: MLB diapers, Bumpers, Diapees, Imperial Touch
Vaiano Cremasco, Italy
Brands: New Born, Quik
Daio Paper Corporation
Disposable Soft Goods
Hong Kong, China
Brands: Fitti, PetPet, Drypers, Baby Love, Baby Joy, Cosifit
(Formerly Associated Hygienic Products)
Brands: Fischer-Price Happy Days and Happy Nights
Hradek nad Nisou
Ever Green Industria e Comercio
Sao Bernardo do Compo, Brazil
Brands: Huppy Baby; Natural Baby; Backyardigans
Evyap Sabun YAG
90-0-212-289 23 00
Brands: Evy Baby
Valencia Caracas, Venazeula
First Quality Enterprises
Great Neck, NY
Brands: Cuties, WonderPants, Sleep Overs
Brands: Bimbo Mio
Caloto Cauca, Colombia
Hain Celestial Group
Brands: Earth’s Best
San Istanbul, Turkey
Brands: Molfix, Bebem
Hadera Paper (Hogla-Kimberly Ltd.)
Hospital Specialty Co.
Rüti b. Büren Schweiz
41 (0)32 352 04 70
Fax: 41 (0)32 352 04 79
Mexico City, Mexico
Brands: Suabebe, Suavisec, Kinder
Neenah, WI, U.S.
Brands: Huggies, Pull-Ups, GoodNites, DryNites, Little Swimmers, Snugglers, Peaudouce, Kleen Bebe, Kleen Bebe Pingos, Green
Taipei City, Taiwan
Brands: IndaSlip, Bambino, Nene, MayBaby
Brands: Lambi, Bebin, Happy Baby, Smarty Baby
Brand names: Nannys
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Brand names: Plim Plim, Puppet
30 210 2419800
Brands: Babylino, BabyGo, Daipers Air
Dammam, Saudi Arabia
Brands: Sanita BAMBI
Brands: Private label
Brands: Pigeon Pom Pom
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Brands: Pom Pom, Protek Baby
Procter & Gamble
Brands: Pampers, Luvs
Brands: Baby Sens, Baby Star, BabyFral, BioCare, Cuddlers, DryBaby, Drykids, Drypers, EQ Dry, Hey Baby, Libero, Pequenin, Plisse, Tessy, Treasures
Sano Bruno’s Enterprises
Hod Hasharon, Israel
Brands: Premium Stretch, Bebe
Brands: Free & Clear
Brands: Merries, Genki
Brands: Assorbello, Voila, Trudi
Brands: Bella Baby Happy
Brands: Moony, Mamy Poko
Brands: Pure’n Gentle, Nurtured by Nature, Classic, Munchkin, bbtips
Brands: Panolini, Pompis, Piccolin, Pototin
Heng Chang Machinery Co., Ltd. (HCH)
Xiao Gu Shan Road Development Zone
Anqing, Anhui 246005 China
Beijing Wallong I.E Corp.
No. 26 South Yuetan Street
Beijing 100825 China
BICMA Hygiene Technologie GmbH
Basaltweg 3 / Industriegebiet Nord-
D-56727 Mayen / Germany
Mayen 56727 Germany
Via Giolitti 19
Castellanza (Varese) 21053 Italy
Cellulose Converting Solutions
Viale Kennedy 40
C. de Valle del Molino
Curt G. Joa, Inc.
100 Crocker Ave.
Sheboygan Falls, WI 53085
Castelleone (CR) 26012 Italy
Strada Statale 151 km. 13
65010 Collecorvino (PE) Italy
Fameccanica Data SpA
Via Aterno 136
Sambuceto di S. Giovanni
Teatino (Chieti) 66020 Italy
Via Circonvallazione Sud 8
26010 Offanengo, Italy
Guangzhou Xingshi Equipments Co., Ltd.
No. 11 Zhonghan Road
Hangzhou Creator Machinery Manufacture Co., Ltd.
No. 392 Xingguo Road
Yuhang Economic Development Zone
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 311100 China
Hangzhou New Yuhong Machinery Co., Ltd.
Pinyao Town Hangzhou City
Zhejiang Province 311115 China
Inveskonsult Sweden AB
602 27 Norrkoping Sweden
Jinjiang Haina Machine Co., Ltd.
Beihuan Industrial Area, Anhai Town
Jinjiang City, Quanzhou 362261 China
Tel: 86 595 85716116
Fax: 86 595 85717272
M.D. Viola Macchine Srl
Via Lombardia 16/18
Valle Salimbene Pavia
ZAC Les Jasses
280 rue l’Oliveraie
34130 Valerques France
Quanzhou Hanwei Machinery Co.
Fuqiao Industrial Zone
Quanzhou, Fujian 362000 China
Three Wood Machinery Industry
No. 138 Jinhu West Road Jinhu County
Jiangsu Province, PR China
15-21 Minamibefu Settsu
Osaka 566-0045 Japan
Via Libero Grassi 1
26010 - Bagnolo Cremasco (CR)
Tel: 39 0373 649620
Fax: 39 0373 649611
FOCKE & CO (GmbH & CO KG) - General Packaging
Tel: 49 4499 82-0
Focke & Co., Inc.
5730 Millstream Road
Whitsett, NC 27377
OPTIMA Filling and Packaging Machines GmbH
74523 Schwaebisch Hall
Tel: 49 791 506-0
Fax: 49 791 506-9000
Via Mengolina, 22
48018 Faenza, Ravenna,
Contact: Davide Montanari
Thinner, Faster, Softer
Disposable diaper makers continue to perfect their products.
By Karen McIntyre, Senior Editor
Published January 6, 2014