"Arkema offers a portfolio of technologies to meet the growing demand for new and sustainable materials."
Can you introduce Arkema and describe the company’s main areas of focus?
The Arkema group was created in October 2004, following the reorganization of Total’s chemicals branch. Through innovation, targeted acquisitions and investments in emerging countries, the company has become a recognized world player in the field of specialty chemicals. Arkema offers a portfolio of technologies to meet the growing demand for new and sustainable materials. With the ambition of becoming a company focused solely in Specialty Materials, we are structured in three complementary, resilient and highly innovative segments – adhesive, advanced materials, and coating solutions.
Arkema is focused on following the megatrends in the industry which we believe lead to increased performance. Innovative specialty products add value, and contribute to more sustainable products, which are required for future growth in the new consumer market. From a sustainability standpoint, although Latin America is moving at a slower pace, I believe the region is still moving in the right direction.
What is Arkema’s current footprint in Brazil, and how has M&A activity helped you evolve in the region?
Arkema has a large presence in Brazil with over 600 employees, seven production sites, three laboratories, 11 distribution centers and three commercial subsidiaries. Our main customers in the country operate in the construction, plastic, coatings, paints, refrigeration, packaging, oil, gas, automotive and transportation sectors.
Over the years we have seen significant growth in Brazil through the purchase of the Araçariguama plant in São Paulo in 2012, as well as the acquisition of Bostik in 2015, the world leader in glue and adhesive technologies, which has factories in São Roque and Araraquara. In 2019, the company announced the purchase of ArrMaz, a global manufacturer of special surfactants, which has locations in Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. This helped us enter Brazil’s large agribusiness, where there is great demand in additives for fertilizers. In 2021, Bostik announced the acquisition of Poliplás, a leader in Latin America in the manufacture of hybrid adhesives and sealants.
How do you view the current business climate in Brazil and the near-term outlook for the country?
Brazil went through several years of crisis and the economy did not see any growth. To a certain extent, the new government has created a more favorable climate as they have a more pro-business approach than the previous administration. Although the pandemic has been challenging, the country is no longer in crisis mode, and we have started to see economic recovery. The construction industry has been the main driver of this recovery over the past three years, complemented by a boom in the commodity prices. The pending elections are creating some uncertainty, but I believe Brazil is on a growth path that will continue for the foreseeable future.
In June 2021, Arkema was awarded a Sustainable Leadership Award by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) for its bio-circular polyamide 11. What role will Arkema Brazil play in the production of this product?
Arkema’s bio-circular polyamide 11 gives the company a unique position in Brazil, as the product is one of the main components of pipes in the offshore industry. Arkema is the leading manufacturer of this unique advanced material, which is very durable, fully recyclable, and is produced 100% from castor oil, a renewable and sustainable raw material. Brazil used to be a major producer of castor oil in the past, and today, we are very active in promoting this production capacity again to supply to our newly built factory in Singapore. Our new plant is expected to increase our polyamide 11 global production capacity by 50%.
Downstream, we have acquired Agiplast, a company specialized in the regeneration and recycling of high performance polymers and materials. We are working to have Brazil as one of the main sources of recycled polyamide through the dismantling of old offshore pipes.
Can you elaborate on Arkema’s approach to diversity and inclusion?
Sustainability has always been a key focus for Arkema, and this includes placing an emphasis on how we deal with people. We have projects to develop professional gender equity at all levels of the company, to facilitate exchanges between different countries to promote cultural diversity in our teams, including recruiting and integrating people with disabilities. As part of our non-discrimination charter, the Group has set itself the goal of reaching 30% of women among senior executives by 2030. At Arkema Brazil, our “MARIE” program aims to implement various initiatives for gender diversity such as mentoring for women, the creation of a dedicated networks, and internal awareness-raising initiatives.