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World Aerosols Interview: Eco-Valve’s ongoing growth

Posted on Fri 18th August 2023

Salvalco, recently announced that, with the demand for its Eco-Valve growing, the company is expanding its factory and warehouse facility in Thailand. Peter Shaw, managing director, gives World Aerosols his insights

Founded in 2013, Salvalco was formed to commercialise and further develop the design innovation of Eco-Valve, the result of work carried out by the Spray Research Group (SRG) at Salford University in the UK.

Eco-Valve is designed to enable aerosols to be successfully propelled by harmless gases such as nitrogen or simply compressed air, while offering a spray performance that is similar to LPG-propelled products. It utilises patented Bubbly-Flow Technology that was developed by the SRG at Salford University.

In April this year, Salvalco announced the expansion of its production capacity, via the extension of its factory and warehouse facility in Thailand, a joint venture with contract manufacturer Sanit & Sons.

The expansion will double its current manufacturing footprint, and it is here that production of the optimised Eco-Valve will take place, with new high-speed assembly lines being installed to maximise capacity and efficiency.

“We’re the new kids on the block,” said Shaw, when World Aerosols asked when the Thailand facility first became operational. “The company was actually founded ten years ago, but it was very much still in the R&D phase then, so Thailand only came online in March 2022.”

That means that, at the time the interview was conducted, it has only been operational for just over a year.

“Because of demand, within a nine-month period we grew out of the original building and we quickly needed to expand,” added Shaw.

He went on to say that the company has quite an aggressive growth plan, and so expanded infrastructure at the factory was always going to be necessary.

“There are plans on the table where we will increase the footprint – the square meterage of the site – again, as the demand and capacities require. We have a plan already in place for that.”

The Thai link
This was Salvalco’s first manufacturing facility. Thailand was selected as the location because, during the R&D phase, the company made a lot of good connections in the industry, Shaw explained. Thailand is a hotbed of aerosol valve and aerosol filling activity as well.

“We predominantly went with that as a country because of people, and know-how as well, there is a lot of aerosol expertise there in all areas: valve manufacture, aerosol filling, there are a lot of brand owners there now too,” he said.

Whilst Salvalco physically owns all the assets that produce the valves, such as moulds and assembling machines, it contract manufactures the valve to its partner Sanit & Sons. This partnership began because Sanit & Sons did a lot of R&D formulation work with the Eco-Valve.

“We met them, talks and discussions were ongoing and it kind of bubbled up and grew from there. We had a mutual customer and enquiry many years ago,” said Shaw.

Sanit & Sons has huge experience and possesses good manufacturing practice (GMP) accreditation, the minimum standard that a medicines manufacturer must meet in their production processes. For Shaw, this was indicative as to the company’s focus on quality.

“To be honest – and this matters in business – they are great people to work with, incredibly proactive, we get on very well with them and that really does make a difference.” he added.

Major appeal
Adopters of the Eco-Valve include brands such as Procter & Gamble’s Native personal care product. World Aerosolsasked Shaw for his thoughts on why the technology is attractive to major corporations.

“I would say, in very simplistic terms, they obviously know the market very well. They have vetted the market, and made the decision that the Eco-Valve offers the closest comparison to a traditional butane spray,” he said.

“Fundamentally, they chose the valve because it offered, in their opinion, the best spray in the market with nitrogen. They want to sell more cans and they want repeat purchase, so that’s why we were chosen. It’s all about the spray.”

Geographically, Shaw explained that the core markets for the company are in Europe and North America. He felt that, in North America especially, one of the key drivers is the regulatory landscape.

“I think the consumers in Europe and North America are more demanding of brand owners for more sustainable, environmentally friendly products. So that’s my take on why business is developing more rapidly in these territories,” he said.

Start up appeal
The Eco-Valve was also a solution for Respray, the Hungarian start up company that has launched a deodorant refilling machine. These machines aim to have a positive impact on the cosmetics industry, helping manufacturers to reduce not just waste, but packaging costs too.

The refillable Isana Rossmann deodorant cans used with the machine utilise the innovative Eco-Valve technology, which is fully compatible with the nitrogen propellant used.

World Aerosols asked Shaw about this collaboration.

“Their concept is refill in stores. You can’t refill LPG butane in a supermarket environment, so you have to use an inert gas propellant.”

He went on to say that one of Salvalco’s early launches in Europe was with a Rossmann retailer, and he believed one of the Respray team spotted that and approached Salvalco.

“I really like their company, they’re a disruptor, a little bit like Salvalco. We have a different offering and solution, but I enjoyed our collaboration and working with them.”

University connection
Salvalco’s laboratory is still situated at the University of Salford. Professor Ghasem Nasr is head of the SRG and Salvalco’s R&D director. This brings a strong relationship between the two organisations.

“He’s extremely involved, the university is a minor shareholder in the business as well, only a small percentage, but we have a close collaboration with them.”

“It’s a good place to be on site at this university. If we want access to the chemistry department because we are working with a complex formula and we need various ingredients, they can sometimes help with that.

Eyes on the future
Salvalco’s next steps are finding solutions for more complex formulas – such as powders, oils and resins. Shaw said this is the next step for the company and for this technology.

“We have some very long-running, deeply technical projects, and these are centred around much more complicated formulations, we are determined to find solutions for these product types.”

He added that widening the application fields that work well with nitrogen is a big part of Salvalco’s growth plan.

“If the industry is fundamentally to make the move away from LPG – be it with Eco-Valve or other solutions – we have to find ways of working with these more complex formula types, and give a consumer-acceptable spray.

“Again, it’s all about the spray, it always is, it always has been, and it’s understanding that boundary at which the consumer will say they don’t like the spray.”

In terms of future products, Shaw was unable to divulge anything to World Aerosols, due to customer confidentiality concerns.

“If I reach out to you in a couple of months’ time, there’s a very exciting one coming along. Watch this space,” he concluded.

For more information visit: salvalco.com or email: info@salvalco.com