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Univar Solutions: A One-Stop Global Ingredient Resource

December 06, 2021 BeautyMatter
December 06, 2021

The pandemic put the fragility of global supply chains front and center on the agendas of governments, businesses, and, for the first time, consumers who experienced the impact daily. For the beauty industry, this has been compounded by digital innovation, and shifting consumer behavior has made companies take a closer look at supply chains and required distributors and suppliers to move more quickly and transparently to meet the demand of their clients. Navigating these challenges and capturing opportunities requires strong partnerships along the supply chain.

BeautyMatter sat down with Arnita Wofford, Global Marketing & Technical Director-Beauty & Personal Care Univar Solutions, for insight on the current supply-side trends and challenges.

Univar Solutions is a global partner to customers and suppliers for the value-added distribution of ingredients and related products and services. Can you unpack how you work with your clients?

We aim to go beyond traditional distribution. Our Beauty & Personal Care team is designed to help all customer profiles, from contract manufacturers to indie brands, legacy brands, and everything in between. Our approach is to tailor the offering, not to push a product, but really focus on service, and what the customer needs. Our supply partners choose to work with us because they know our brands, and technical teams are listening, advising, and answering the tough questions, troubleshooting to help get that new launch out the door, and ultimately are an extension of the customers marketing and R&D teams. Our customer relationships are genuine—we care about delivering product safely when it’s needed, where it’s needed, and working with the customer until their objectives are met. The marketing and creative team work on prototype formulations to inspire our customers and help them jump-start product development. Whether it’s providing trend insights, reviewing concepts, or helping with formulation development, we are involved upstream to facilitate the entire launch process.

Throughout the beauty value chain, businesses continue to deal with supply chain issues. How does Univar Solutions work with clients to navigate these current challenges?

For us, it’s about having strategic partners that value distribution and prioritize Univar Solutions in their supply chain. We’ve also invested in our own fleet of trucks and rail lines, blending, packaging and sampling capabilities to further support these challenges, and our extensive relationships with contract manufacturers can help brands go to market more quickly and help secure production when needed.

Building resilient supply chains with redundancies to accommodate for delays or price increases has become a post-pandemic mandate. How can Univar Solutions be a partner in this work?

Great question. Going back to what I was just saying about strategic supplier partnerships, we occupy a lot of space with those partners on a larger scale, as all of Univar Solutions’ businesses rely on those relationships and that makes us a better choice for any type of ingredient you’re trying to source. Our global network allows for us to pull from a multitude of locations to serve our customers. Due to our asset infrastructure, we are well-positioned to benefit from onshore manufacturing trends with more local robust supply chains. We have the ability to control what matters to our suppliers and customers with safe handling and on-time delivery. We have the ability to optimize our transportation costs and the strong ability to partner with suppliers and customers for a more sustainable supply chain. We try to get ahead of any major headwinds with transparent communication.

As stated by David Jukes, President and CEO of Univar Solutions, “Buyers are changing the way they buy. We are building the capabilities to meet customers wherever and however they want to buy, whether in office, on video, phone or online in the middle of the night.” We want to provide customers the ease of buying wherever they want with the peace of mind in knowing their products are in stock and will have on-time delivery.

"Our customer relationships are genuine—we care about delivering product safely when it’s needed, where it’s needed, and working with the customer until their objectives are met."
By Arnita Wofford, Global Marketing & Technical Director-Beauty & Personal Care, Univar Solutions

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for businesses to future-proof supply chains from an ingredient perspective?

If we continue to make capital investments and further improvements in packaging, order fulfillment, and sampling, that will help our supply partners concentrate on production and hopefully remove some of the bottlenecks in the supply chain. It’s also important to focus on forecasting, moving from a just-in-time supply chain to using AI models for further insights will help for the future; but of course, most importantly, the buyers will help shape the future.

With Univar Solutions' global reach and breadth of supplier partnerships, you are often the first to see innovations and spot trends. How can businesses tap into this knowledge for product development?

Our strength is our reach, and our teams are on the ground reporting back on all the trends in the market. We work with data agencies to build on future trends, and we give those insights to our customers to foster innovation for their brands. Our broad synergistic portfolio allows us to suggest the right product to match the trends, and thanks to our supplier relationships we know what’s coming down the pipe from our suppliers and can pass that innovation forward more quickly.

Sustainability is top of mind for consumers, driving brands to provide transparency throughout the supply chain down to the source of the ingredient. How are suppliers addressing this consumer-driven need?

We have an aligned approach towards sustainability, including eight major pillars that drive a positive impact in our products, operations, and supply chain, for our employees and local communities. We strive to partner with key suppliers who have a similar commitment to sustainability.

Sustainable solutions are one of the key pillars, which aims to leverage our portfolio of sustainable products, services, practices, and technologies to support our customers’ sustainability journeys. We will develop and communicate product-level sustainability characteristics for Univar Solutions’ product ranges globally. In addition, we will communicate the key sustainability impacts for non-product-related services to customers. Finally, we will offer circular packaging solutions for all suitable packed products, without compromising safety.

Another key pillar for us is sustainable sourcing, which drives improved sustainability performance and minimum standards across our diverse supplier base. 100% of new and active suppliers will acknowledge our global supplier Code of Conduct by 2023. At minimum, we will assess 80% of suppliers (by spend) on their sustainability performance, with minimum standards for those assessed being met by 2025.

With both sustainable solutions and sustainable sourcing, we aim to meet the needs of today and future customer needs together.

Can you share a bit about your centralized information system?

After the acquisition of Nexeo Solutions, we made a commitment to move to one central platform. Today, we’re proud to say that part of our integration is complete, and we are operating on one SAP system. All our systems are connected, making sure we have the right products at the right time. Having a central platform makes is easier to do business with and work for Univar Solutions, which is at the core of our growing together strategy. The systems are world class, and having this digital supply chain capability means we can now completely focus on growth. We will continue to evolve our digital ecosystem for the benefit of our customers.

What consumer behaviors are you watching that you believe will impact product development in the future?

Living sustainably is top of mind, and that touches consumption, sources—the full product life cycle. Univar Solutions recently received the honor of being listed on Newsweek’s America’s Most Responsible Companies 2022 list based on our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) progress. ESG commitments are not about what you say, it’s about what you do. Univar Solutions is a values-based and purpose-driven company rooted in the commitment to help keep our communities healthy, fed, clean, and safe. Living this purpose takes action and understanding that what we do really matters. We are constantly looking for supply partners that move the beauty industry forward. We recently launched a new digital channel that will showcase innovations from smaller suppliers and start-ups, and foster a dialogue between brands, consultants, contract manufacturers, and suppliers. Visitors can surf trend content, request samples, or even purchase directly. 2020 and 2021 were defining years both for the industry and for human culture. We shop differently, more measured, with a higher focus on performance, results, origins. We want to feel good about where we buy and whom we buy from, and Univar Solutions is taking steps to ensure our offering meets the criteria for today and tomorrow.