Ecolab hopes to cash in on food safety awareness

By Ben Yue (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-05-10 10:09
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Ecolab hopes to cash in on food safety awareness
In China, 90 percent of beer bottles are recycled, disinfected and reused. [Photo/ Agencies]

BEIJING - Ecolab Inc, a US-based producer of disinfectant and food safety services company, plans to increase investment in China, thanks to fast-growing demand in the local market, said one of the company's top executives.

An initial investment of $900 million for a new production center in Jiangsu province is in the pipeline, said Sam Hsu, Ecolab's senior vice-president and regional general manager, in late April.

Once completed, the new center is expected to produce disinfectant with a daily output capacity of 1.5 million tons.

"We are going to build our biggest production base globally in Taicang, Jiangsu province, and also enlarge the current research and development (R&D) center in Shanghai into one of our three largest around the world," he said.

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"This new base is built to support demand from the local market, rather than for export," Hsu said, adding that the company also plans to enlarge the Shanghai R&D center to equal the size of its North America and European centers.

Ecolab invested 200 million yuan ($30.78 million) in regional headquarters in Shanghai in 2009. It employs 1,000 people in China with the aim of localizing its research team.

As the company provides comprehensive services to businesses, such as food and beverage processing and servicing, healthcare, and hospitality, Ecolab sees China as "one of its core growth markets".

Hsu said the size of China's food safety services market was valued at about $25 billion in 2009 and it is estimated that it will reach $30 billion in 2011.

"Issues concerning China's food safety has raised awareness in the country. We think the business of disinfecting and preventing the risk of food contamination in the industry has a bright future and it is still in the fast-growing phase."

According to Hsu, Ecolab is a leading player in China, which entered the market more than 20 years ago. The company also cooperates with government programs and provides policymaking suggestions.

"Our new R&D center has some designs particularly for local demand," said Hsu. "For example, beer bottles in the United States are for one-time usage, while in China, 90 percent of the bottles are recycled. Our job is to find how to disinfect and reuse the bottles."