New consumer habits call for rethinking detergents

New consumer habits call for rethinking detergents

With shocking speed, the COVID-19 crisis has changed the way we interact, the way we work, the way we purchase, and, for some, the way we clean and do our laundry.

Across the globe, there is an increased focus on the environmental impact of the products we consume. The same goes for laundry products, where there is a steadily growing concern among consumers, public authorities and NGOs, driving the detergent industry to bring greener products to market that are gentler to the environment and to the end-users.

The current pandemic is also forcing nations around the world to rethink processes, systems, habits and to implement more sustainable solutions to balance and protect public health, the economy and the environment. In other words, the crisis is asking something from all of us. 

However, the key challenge in the industry is to make an efficient detergent, which cares for the environment and people, and is less vulnerable to fluctuating raw material prices.

The global COVID-19 situation is changing consumer behaviour
  • According to Nielsen, the current Corona virus has caused a 25-50% increase in home care products such as hand sanitizers/soap, surface cleaning and laundry detergents.
  • Consumers are increasingly focused on preserving home hygiene and health.
  • Consumers are increasingly searching for information on the internet.

Stable prices

Today, a detergent mainly consists of petrochemical-based ingredients. Due to the sudden increase in consumer demand for cleaning products, we have seen shortage and high price volatility of several petro-based ingredients, such as surfactants. Surfactant prices are even more volatile when the production capacity utilization moves above 90%.

As enzymes originate from nature, and raw materials are locally sourced, prices of enzymes are more stable. At the same time, replacing surfactants with enzymes can enable additional cost savings, and a better sustainability profile. 

Stable supply

The sudden higher demand for cleaning and laundry products (up 25-50% at peak times) has challenged the industry overall in keeping up with supplies. This is also a trend affecting us at Novozymes. Both our European and American production sites broke delivery records as demand suddenly peaked. 

Despite changing demands, we're happy to say that we've been able to not only keep up, but actually deliver to some our customers in even shorter time. This demonstrates our dedication to being a trusted partner and supplier — also in a volatile market. Learn more below. 

Supply-chain continuity – right when you need it

Supply-chain continuity – right when you need it

A global presence means we deliver on schedule – around the world. And a highly flexible production set-up enables us to produce just what you need - when you need it. 

An environmental benefit

Novozymes has embarked on an ambitious journey towards enabling 100% biological detergents. The aim is to completely replace conventional chemical ingredients with enzymatic solutions and biological alternatives — without compromising washing performance. 

This would have a significant impact on the environment, as detergents are used by billions of people daily. Large amounts of detergent ingredients are manufactured, transported and stored throughout the value chain every year. In fact, the CO2 emission coming from producing enzymes is approximately 10 times lower per wash than the CO2 emission of producing surfactants. 

No compromise on performance

Making detergents more biological does not need to lead to poorer performance. In fact, in a recent case study, we demonstrate that replacing 30% surfactants with enzymes can lead to improved washing performance. Even with a 45% surfactant reduction, the detergent outperformed on most stain groups.  

Unlocking compact detergents

Convenience has always been a driver to make detergents more compact. Now that the current pandemic is accelerating the shift towards e-commerce for household products, this is an opportunity to tap into.

Replacing surfactants with enzymes enables compaction, as enzymes work catalytically. An enzyme molecule works again and again without getting exhausted, whereas surfactants attach to dirt particles and act only once. In fact, when replacing surfactants with enzymes, the quantity of enzymes needed is 10 times lower than that of a surfactant removed. This enables significant compaction of the detergent, which is key to save on packaginig, transport and storage, especially in e-commerce.


Contact a Novozymes representative today if you want us to take a closer look at the bigger potential for your brand(s), whether it’s to find cost savings, secure your supply, improve your sustainability profile, or boost your performance.

  • 19% of consumers bought household goods online for the first time during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • 69% of consumer who shopped for household goods online for the first time during the outbreak are very likely to do so again in the next 12 months.

Towards 100% biological detergents

Towards 100% biological detergents

Novozymes is on an ambitious journey to enable 100% biological detergents without compromising wash performance and cost.

Deeper clean, safer home

Deeper clean, safer home

Now more than ever, consumers want to feel in control and keep their homes safe and clean. Help them – and your business – with a deep-cleaning laundry solution from Novozymes.