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UK aerosol production down in 2021, tinplate steel use rises

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Overall UK aerosol unit production dropped in 2021, but tinplate steel aerosol containers are catching up with the previously dominant aluminium containers in the UK, according to new figures.

The British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) reported that in 2021, of the 1.44 billion units produced in the UK, 698 million (48.5%) were made of tinplate, with the remaining 742 million made of aluminium.

In terms of overall aerosol unit production, compared to 2020, this figure dropped by 4.5% - almost 75 million units.

The narrowing of the gap in the aluminium to tinplate ratio is due to a reduction in the output of deodorants and antiperspirants, said BAMA – categories that represent the bulk of UK production. Deodorants and body sprays decreased by approximately 27%, from 353 million units to 257 million, while the reduction in antiperspirants was 6.1%, a reduction of 25 million units.

BAMA said these “rather dramatic” numbers are due to the running down of stock built up during the peaks of the pandemic and translate into the first significant decrease in the UK’s overall production for 2021.

Patrick Heskins, BAMA’s chief executive, commented: “It is the first time in many years that we have seen such a dip in production, but given the economic and political situation of the past two years, I would say that our industry survived remarkably well.”

The large change from the previous year in the household and industrial categories is due to a shift in reporting of some specific products, rather than sudden market changes.

The figures showed novelty products and shaving products have picked up, with a growth of 38% and 6%, respectively. The latter comes as a surprise after a few years of slight but constant decline, said BAMA, while the increase in party and seasonal products is linked to the relaxing of Covid restrictions in various countries.

Haircare products and starches also picked up after the 2020 slump, with an additional 22 million unit output for the segment, up by 18%, and 2.3 million more units for fabric sprays, possibly following the gradual return of staff to the workplace.

Hard surface cleaners saw a decline of almost 36% from 50 to 32 million units, a change to be expected after the “cleaning frenzy” of the first stages of the pandemic, BAMA noted. Nasal sprays, a relatively new product that has grown in popularity outside the UK, have influenced the 5.7% rise in the medical and pharmaceutical products category, while the sustained growth of flea sprays and veterinary products appears in line with the peak in pet adoptions seen in 2020.

The reasons behind other variations are not quite so clear, the Association commented. For instance, the 80% increase in insecticides or the 132% increase in paints and lacquers. A large share of the UK production has traditionally been destined for export. The different timing of lockdowns from one country to the other, and unusual demand due to extreme weather conditions globally, could have affected these results.

Look out for more in-depth analysis in the May/June edition of World Aerosols magazine.

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