Ecolab, the US based sanitation supply company has been one of the global leaders in offering food safety services, safety consulting and pest control services to corporates and institutions. Eric Melin, Executive Vice President and President, Ecolab spoke to M Saraswathy during his visit to Mumbai about the company’s India plans. Excerpts:
Could you throw some light on Nalco’s recent merger with Ecolab?
The merger closed on December 1 last year. As the two companies looked at each other, they realised that Ecolab was very strong in clean technology, making sure that factories that made bottles of soda are safe and sanitised; sanitising food service preparations. Now, if you look at Nalco, it has a long history of treating and making sure that water coming into industrial facility is of the quality needed to produce the items. We identified water as our common theme. So it was clear that if one brought the two companies together, in long term view, our growth potential would be much stronger if we use the innovation that both companies have.
What will be its impact on the Asia Pacific (APAC) region?
The APAC region has given us critical mass on the infrastructure side. So in India, both companies can leverage what they invested in, grow faster; use the resources, R&D facility, technology, manufacturing facility. So we can use the infrastructure available for our growth. Secondly, we can also leverage the market access that both the companies have been quite strong. We can leverage each other’s technology to better serve customers here.
What is the market for your products here?
Could you elaborate on the existing tie-ups in India?
Four Seasons Hotel, Hotel Leela, ITC are being served by the Nalco-Ecolab technology. Worldwide, we provide support to KFC, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. We help in sanitising and cleaning during the food preparations. We are strengthening our positions with them in India as we are growing now.
What are the business opportunities for you in this region?
We see growth in areas of hotels, food service, restaurants. As people get wealthier in this region and eat out more, their diet changes. So, we are also seeing ourselves in chicken and fruit processing by ensuring safety of those while they are processed. Our market size in APAC region is over $1.5 billion and India itself is $60 million. We expect to grow in the 25 per cent plus range in India.
What are some of your recent innovations?
We innovate in the areas of water management, help customers in reuse, recycle and reduce water consumption with technology. We cater to Tata Steel in Jamshedpur by helping them use less water in the industry. At Kingfisher, for example, we help use less water in cleaning their facility while bottling beer and reduce water quantity to lubricate the belts when they are running at high speed. We also work with several other brewing companies in India for the same needs. We have helped prepare test kits for arsenic identification in water in Kolkata.
What are the demands of the industry from companies like you?
I recently met the head of a five star hotel in India. Now, what they are looking at in terms of corporate responsibility is water reduction. They are being measured on the amount of water usage per person staying there. Our job is to educate them on best in class technology. minimise technology. We are also teaching best food safety practices in the kitchen to the Indian clients, from storage top cleanliness to hygiene. The company uses automation technology which can help understand on a real time basis how water is being used as it comes in. Water, taken out from any source, can be monitored to see how it looks, cleaned and redirected back to its source.
Where do you see the company in 3-5 years, in India?
We see ourselves expanding in maybe another 30 cities, apart from the six to eight cities in India where we are already present. The company will also be servicing industrial parks in water management. Also, the target is not just four and five star hotels but business class hotels as well, especially those with low price points. With new quick serve restaurants like the McDonald’s and Starbucks coming in, we aim to be present in all of them. We will continue to invest in people and resources for this growth.