Aerosol Europe: How does the Brazilian aerosol industry look at the moment, especially with regard to the global Corona pandemic?
Almásy: The biggest impact of the quarantine was the decrease in industrial activity due to the closure of commercial establishments. However, there were also logistics and distribution difficulties magnified by an immense country and the uncertainties of a population that started to consume only what it considered essential in view of the imminent risks to health and unemployment. Aerosols experienced the biggest drop between April and May, with a decline of nearly 27%. By the end of the year, we forecast a 9% to 12% drop, which is similar to the drop in our GDP.
Brazil projects more than 160,000 deaths from Covid-19 by October. The official number of people contaminated is about 4,000,000, but laboratories linked to scientific research in universities estimate that the total number of people contaminated could be 6 times the official number due to insufficient testing. Few here know the truth.
I wish I could say in this interview that given the fact that Covid-19 kills both the rich and the poor, there was a change in the perception of the relationship with many of our executives who were impacted by the sad view of the open graves and sensitized by the humanitarian issue involved, instead of if they mourn the loss of profits and stand idly by, they supported ABAS in a National Donation Campaign.
Since March 20, ABAS has mobilized 32 companies among its associates for a campaign to confront COVID19. Donations totaling EUR 750,000, of 300,000 units of sanitizing alcohol 70° aerosol have been made to state civil defense in order to help front-line workers in hospitals in the Public Health Service in Brazil.
The state government in São Paulo considered the aerosol sector in Brazil a strategic and essential industry, one that has continued to operate without restrictions throughout the period of pandemic. Conclusion: we helped people, no aerosol factory was shut down, and we still managed to produce aerosols for the Brazilian hospital services. Everyone was very pleased to be able to help.
4 months later, humanitarian values have been recovered. The Brazilian population of more than 210 million people is hopeful that all this will pass and life will continue in the new normal. For a lot of people, this is their only hope.
Aerosol Europe: According to the rotation, next year there should be another Latin American Aerosol Congress with exhibition. Do you already know which county will organize it?
Almásy: In October 2019, my predecessor at ABAS, Mr. Hugo Chaluleu, passed the presidency of FLADA – the Latin American Aerosol Federation -- to Mr. Mariano Santacroche, the current president of CADEA- the Argentinian Aerosol Chamber for the management rotation until 2021. At that time, the CCA - Chilean Aerosol Chamber would be planning a technical event in 2021 with lectures but without an exhibition, but given that there has been a drastic change in the world scenario, we are waiting for the outcome of the pandemic nightmare to see if they will follow the FEA’s example and make this a virtual congress.
All of this is still under discussion at FLADA and I am not authorized to provide spoilers and dates officially. We will know in September what this possible event in Chile will look like and we still have plenty of time for any change in the current scenario, so we hope that CADEA Argentina can also produce a wonderful congress in 2023 with an exhibition. If this depends on the will of the entities involved, we will always do it with good content and in big style, to honor our visitors and the Latin American aerosol industry.
We are independently studying the possibility of transforming the Second Brazilian Aerosol Forum that was successfully held at the FCE fair, and putting this together with the Cosmetology and Pharmaceutical congress. This major international event at the FCE Cosmetics and Pharma Fair is organized by Nüremberg Messe with over 17,000 visitors and could host the 1st Brazilian Aerosol Congress in 2022. ABAS can thus focus on the technical scientific program and have less stress due to the sale of booths. Companies could send more representatives, because instead of 500 people, more than 17,000 people will be able to visit aerosol booths, and there will also be information about cosmetic and medication packaging, raw materials, equipment, etc. In the opinion of those who in fact pay the bills, the money must be well spent, maximizing the exposure of ABAS members to customers. Working cooperatively even with competitors is also part of the new normal, for together we are stronger.
Only time will tell if the risk of contamination with Covid-19 can be overcome in the coming years, allowing such a large number of people to be present at the same event. A good vaccine could make everyone safe. We are waiting for a vaccine, and meanwhile we still remain in quarantine.
Aerosol Europe: In October of last year, the Brazilian aerosol association organized the 10th Latin American Aerosol Congress in Sao Paulo. With great success! Your impressions?
Almásy: In October 2019, when I was still Vice President of ABAS, I had the responsibility of being the scientific coordinator of the 10th Latin American Aerosol Congress in São Paulo. Here, we were able to present a record 40 lectures, exchanging the traditional form of our events in Brazil with 40-minute lectures, for the 20-minute dynamic ADF model that has been so successful around the world. Now, I would like to take a moment to greet the staff of Easyfairs, for they are always very kind and competent. Mercí à tous.
We had over 700 visitors, we opened the exhibition free of charge to the public, and all the booths were sold -- and we still had EUR 150 in profit! We were able to extend access to the lectures to the academic public with the necessary discounts for students and teachers, no one slept, and everyone left satisfied with the content and the chance to talk with the speakers at “Meet the Speakers”, expanding a network. Goal!
Aerosol Europe: What topics in the Brazilian aerosol industry must be treated with priority?
Almásy: The priorities are:
- Expansion of the registration with the government of a range of 10 propellants for food that are also used for products with modified atmosphere. This new market could reach 100M units in a few years.
- Expansion of the registration with the government of new propellants for pharmaceutical aerosol use, with a focus on vaccines, allowing solubility options for nanostructured systems. This refers to strategic public health issues for Brazil.
- Introduction of 16 FLADA recommendations within the framework of technical standards in Brazil. This technically integrates much of the aerosol industry in Latin America. It represents over 10 years of hard work and it has been a pleasure to learn from the best aerosol technicians in Latin America.
- In regulatory terms, to continue to technically assess the divergences between the North American and European blocs and adopt what is appropriate for the Latin American reality, especially with regard to environmental matters. This has been the directive of the Ministry of Health of Brazil in the area of consumer products for decades in the MERCOSUR block. We are very grateful to FEA’s Alain D’aese for always providing us with fast, highly valuable technical information.
- Establishment and consolidation of ABAS post-consumer reverse logistics program for inventories of more than 1.3 billion units.
- To train technical and scientific staff to develop and evaluate packaging, production, QC, HQ, R&D, formulate and sell raw materials, analyze propellants, sell, test stability, serve consumers, make regulations, etc., for a projected consumption of 9.9 units per capita or 2 billion aerosols per year between 2027 and 2030. This is hard work, but we need to prepare our workforce technically.
- Through education in public schools, seek to teach children that aerosol packaging is recyclable, sustainable and that reverse aerosol logistics leads us to a circular economy that can benefit society. We are very pleased with the message from South Africa and we are thinking of composing a rap just like they did; theirs is available on Youtube.
Aerosol Europe: Do you see special trends with a view to aerosol packaging in Brazil?
- New shapes will be welcome in tinplate, aluminum and PET
- Safety standards for plastic aerosols, as there are interesting market demands for low reactive packaging, including for food. Plastic aerosols will also conquer your space and will have to deal with environmental management concerns. Remember that PET is not HDPE, and requires different handling from low-value plastics in recycling.
- Coating varnishes that already exist in Europe and the USA tend to be made available at competitive prices in the opening of the food market, on which we have an insignificant participation today of around 16M units, mainly Chantilly.
- The pharmaceutical market is still small and concentrated on asthma pumps and topical anti-inflammatory drugs. We know that a market expansion in medicines is slower because it demands research, respect for patents and government authorizations, which can take more than 5 years. Aerosol vaccines need to be thoroughly tested and we are reviewing the 2011 initiatives in the USA and Mexico to better understand why the average 84% measles immunization was not enough to induce an immune response, to advance the missing 3% to that are made by non-invasive means in more effective aerosols. This requires resources and will certainly be opposed by the injectable chain established over 100 years ago. Our technicians in Brazil are very creative and we are establishing formats for joint work between the academic sector of universities and the private sector, so that intellectual property efforts are financially recognized. In the end, we want extremely accurate valves and actuators to deliver vaccines of PM2 to PM3 without breaking the nanostructured systems, for will be in demand in 2 to 3 years.
Aerosol Europe: How are production figures developing right now?
Almásy: In 2019, we set a historical record of apparent annual consumption of aerosols with 1.39 billion units. Market information is provided below. Of this amount, around 15% is still imported from neighboring countries of the MERCOSUR block and some percentage comes from China, particularly aerosol paints. We started the year 2020 well with growth prospects of around 3% until COVID-19 reached us in March, overturning the historical growth that had been developing since 2004.
The paint and automotive products sectors experienced significant decreases on the order of more than 17%.
The insecticide sector has remained stable since Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes that transmit diseases such as Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya and Yellow fever, continued to do their part, without regard for Sars-cov-2.
“We understand that the only weapon that a housewife has to defend her family from diseases transmitted by such vectors is an aerosol insecticide,” and sales remained quite stable, for fear of dying from lack of breathing equipment in hospitals.
The cosmetics sector fell in a very segmented way, as parties and gatherings are still prohibited. Because of this, we are selling much less hair spray. On the other hand, we anticipate that the sale of antiperspirant deodorants will close the year with a growth close to 1%, because we continue to perspire since we are in a tropical country and entire families are still confined to their homes because the government is still considering the gradual return to classes.
Aerosol Europe: How do you see the future of aerosol products in Latin America, in particular in Brazil?
Almásy: My tasks as vice president of ABAS since 2007 have been focused on topics of a scientific and technical nature, regulatory affairs, defense in foreign trade and statistics. Mr. Chaluleu spent 13 years preparing me to succeed him, and I am very grateful to him for everything he taught me in politics, human nature and philosophy. To this day, we consult him and remain attentive to government and customs subsidies and fees, fraud in volume and unfair practices in reverse logistics, which can harm the Brazilian production chain.
Brazilian aerosol projections have been mitigated due to the pandemic, and will slow the projected aerosol consumption of 2 billion units until after 2027, most likely between 2029 and 2030. ABAS statistics separate current domestic consumption of 6.6 per capita, of exports, remembering that the reverse logistics curve must accompany the apparent consumption curve, as the government will certainly demand compliance with the collection targets based on inventories. In Brazil, failure to meet the targets may close companies, as their environmental operating license is not granted at the beginning of each year.
The pie chart above shows that the distribution of aerosol consumption has reached maturity as it is in the European market where the consumption in personal care predominates. On the other hand, the minimum quantities in other segments show possibilities for interesting niches to be explored.
But it is good to warn: today, for any foreign company that wants to export to Brazil, it is necessary to understand the demand of Brazilian consumers, and it has to take into account that we have regional preferences and very specific performance and sensory demands. Copies of successful products abroad may not reflect the same acceptance here. They will have to be adapted. Does not exist in Brazil: Easy Money, in aerosols.
ABAS initiatives to institutionally support the training of aerosol technologists at universities will give us one of the most robust scientific technical bodies in the Americas and the result of this will certainly be seen in an increase in the manufacture and quality of finished products.
My crystal ball does not work well, however, we believe that cosmetics can grow from 1 to 3%, insecticides, household, industrial and automotive technicians and medicines up to 3%, Cleaners and bactericides may grow up to 30% and for food, the sky is the limit. This market has not been explored in Brazil and we believe that the regulations for propellants in the government from the ABAS initiative will be ready by December 2020. My monograph of 911 pages with toxicology data requests the inclusion of 10 propellants in the regulatory framework for Brazilian food. Today we only have nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. We are requesting the entire series of hydrocarbons, oxygenated and fluoridated as long as they meet the Kigali amendment.
As there is an unequal distribution of wealth in the immense Brazilian territory, in wealthier states like São Paulo, per capita consumption is more than 11 units per capita, similar to the mature consumption of several European countries. Other poorer states in Brazil are below 5.0 units per capita. There is still a lot of work to make the population of these states incorporate aerosols into their consumption habits.
I do not know the market of FLADA member countries in enough depth to give an accurate opinion of how they will react to problems of macroeconomic management, pandemic, sometimes absurd environmental restrictions, etc. However, the graph below shows the historical evolution of their impact on us, and I think it is very difficult for them to be able to reconquer what they lost to the Brazilian industry with their exports.
Until 2018, Brazil did not have the ability to export aerosols, but if the exchange rate of 1 EUR = R $ 6.00 prevails, this puts Brazil in a good position to become an exporter. We cannot fail to be aware of export business opportunities and buyers are welcome and ABAS is willing to serve as a reliable bridge for making direct contacts with our associates.
Due to its market representativeness, modernized organizational structure for the digital age and constitutional strength, ABAS is a strong candidate and seeking support to be the headquarters of FLADA’s legal entity, legally constituted in Brazil.
Aerosol Europe: How do you assess the future of aerosol packaging in general?
Almásy: I like to answer this kind of complex question with another question. The advantages of aerosol applicators are recognized by the market and our numbers are proof of this, however my vision goes beyond the movement of resources and money, and I would not be able to teach without an ideological commitment, to answer the following;
“Is this industrial activity with this technology sustainable in the long run?“
On tests, my students have to discuss the following sentence on tests:
“that the strength of metallic bonds directly related to distance and interaction energies, allows iron and aluminum to be subjected to extreme fusion conditions and to be infinitely recyclable, generating sustainability. Covalent and ionic bonds do not have the same interaction forces, resistances and capacities to preserve polymers without thermal degradation, that is, the handling of these materials is limited to these sub-atomic conditions of our state of the art, in this technology.”
I want to conclude by saying that high value-added packaging materials that can be recollected in qualified cooperatives, safely exhausted from their flammable vapor phase, sold and reused allowing low-income populations in Brazil, involved in recycling programs, to put food on the table their families.
We are currently implementing a reverse logistics program at ABAS, initially in the state of São Paulo, which represents 29.5% of national consumption. If it works, it will be expanded to the entire country, and in a few years, it will put us at the forefront of Latin America. The loop of reused materials will return to the foundries and then to manufacture as new aerosol packaging. Under my leadership, with this management of ABAS, if we can be regarded by consumers like the sustainable practice of recycling beer and soda and cola cans, with harmless propellants for the azonium layer and all this without contributing to greenhouse gases, we will be in heaven.
Our waste has more affinity with the metal beverage chain than with LDPE and HDPE plastics, paper or glass. Brazil is a world record holder in aluminum recycling with 98% in consumer products. Recycling this type of packaging generates income for very poor people and their families and encourages the circular economy. I really hope that aerosols will be regarded like this in Brazil.
Aerosol Europe: What goals have you set for yourself in the near future?
Almásy: As a child, sniffing good gas and aerosol filling in 1968:
I come from a very old Hungarian family of farmers, military and political exiles, pilots and explorers, and for reasons of mass migration, I was born in Brazil. With the historical adventures of the 20th century, my father left Hungary after WW2, in 1956, for Bernstein Castle and then Rapperswil, where he was an assistant engineer to Dr. Honisch at Aeratom. He had to adapt our way of life from caste-like to that of bourgeois and dedicated himself to industrial activity. Our branch of the traditional Almásy family has been established in aerosols since 1958 in Switzerland and 1962 in Brazil and we were one of the founders of ABAS in 1963, one year before my birth.
In my professional life with more than 64,000 hours dedicated to aerosols, having always served contract fillers, I started my career as a glass washer and gas sniffer in a small laboratory. I am also very grateful to the Mäder family for giving me the opportunity to have an engineering internship at Pamasol in Switzerland in the late 1980s.
As a chemical engineer in production management, from quality control to R&D director, and from post-graduation in cosmetology, I have formulated more than 630 aerosol products in the last 20 years and many are still online today as state of the art, such as antiperspirant deodorants 72h-invisible, make-up and anti-inflammatory aerosols for the pharmaceutical industry.
Our patent for nanometric sodium chloride in aerosols, presented by Tubex, won the Paris ADF award in 2017. Once in production, we can save the lives of 32,000 people who would otherwise die in Brazil from diseases related to hypertension.
For the future, I can imagine that I have two options for doctoral thesis and post-doc: something likely as non-invasive methods of aerosol vaccines, or in the area of science fiction in nanostructured systems for countermeasures against bioterrorism, always in aerosols.
I am currently writing 3 books for teaching aerosol technology. I have a paper on the internet at www.aeroserviceaerosol.com with more than 100 pages on corrosion electrochemistry and stability for free use by students. I used a lot of sense of humor because this subject is the worst one to teach.
After leaving my bosses very wealthy and retiring 2 months ago, I am still very active as a R&D freelancer, in a well-equipped low-cost aerosol laboratory installed on the ground floor of Château St.James, where I work accompanied by my wife Rosangela to whom I have been married for 35 years, and with absolute freedom of creation and focusing on aerosol projects for Brazilian public health.
My wish is still to dedicate more time to the transcription of some works by Schubert and Beethoven for the large organ that we are installing in the mansard roof of the laboratory. Since eternity was never optional, life continues to serve for a good purpose.
I intend to hand over the Presidency of ABAS at the end of my turn in 2021, digitally modernized, with reduced operational costs and financial strength. The conduct of the Post-consumer Aerosol Reverse Logistics Program must be carried out with maximum compliance and audited periodically. I will remain as a director at ABAS as long as I am useful and mentally capable.
The new statute will allow us to adapt our dispenser transversality to the demands of the future, while ABAS continues to represent the voice of the aerosol sector in Brazil.
Aerosol Europe: Mr. Almásy, dear Antal, we thank you for this conversation
Almásy: Dear Detlev, thanks for Aerosol Europe’s attention and interest in showing a Brazilian vision of aerosols.