In Search Of Better Chance Abroad

WITH the slow acceptance in the mainstream local retail market of its natural herbal products, a company engaged in the manufacture of natural herbal laundry detergents is shifting back, saying it may stand a better chance in the United States and Central America.

Dalia Herbal Community Enterprises Inc. manufactures bath and laundry soaps and detergents as well as personal and household products. But its anchor product is Victoria Herbal laundry granules, a winner of numerous international awards.

This one-of-a-kind product is made only from coconut oil and herbal essences. It has been in the market since the late 1980s but the market has been slow to pick up.

Victoria will soon hit the shelves of Safeway, a grocery chain in the US and Canada, company president Ma. Aleli Pansacola said.

Pansacola is in talks with a Boise, Idaho-based distribution company for supermarkets and a California-based multilevel marketing firm with a huge base in Central America.

"We are offering an alternative. It's hard to sell in the traditional market because we have no budget for advertising," she said.

Nowadays, Victoria Soap can only be seen in some major supermarkets and specialty eco-stores. Dalia also has dealerships and makes for private labels.

Victoria Soap is also exported in the Middle East.

“We want a bigger distribution base in the Philippines since our advocacy is health, the environment and helping the farmer community," Pansacola said.

Pansacola said Victoria is trying to get a piece of the P50 billion cleansing agent industry controlled by multinational companies.

Price-wise, while Victoria may be more expensive, it is cheaper cost-wise, according to Pansacola.

"Our natural herbal products are 100 percent active materials. This means, it is a 100 percent cleaning agent. A regular detergent costs P76 per kilo but the active ingredients are only 10 percent, then our equivalent price should be P760," Pansacola.

Victoria is priced at P160.

Tests conducted at an industrial laundry showed that one ton of laundry used up only P800 worth of Victoria. The same load used up more than P1,500 worth of regular detergent.

In a regular household laundry, a 7-lb washing machine load uses up only about 40 grams of Victoria Soap.

Since it is a 100 percent cleaning agent, there is no need to use bleach and fiber softener. It also preserves the fabric and does not cause rashes or skin allergies. It is multi-purpose as the wash water can be used as a natural pesticide for plants and also for cleaning tiles and kitchen sinks.

"We were just ahead of our time. We have been trying since 1994 to distribute it in the local market.”

Its factory in Pila, Laguna can do 100 tons of detergent.

Victoria Herbal laundry granules are like shaved pieces of soap: when used, its cleaning properties are readily absorbed by the clothes and easy to wash off as well - leaving a fresh, clean scent that stays on the clothes the whole day.

This characteristic makes Victoria Herbal laundry granules the preferred detergent for eco-oriented families and communities. It minimizes water use and its lack of any other harsh ingredients makes it 100 percent biodegradable and safe to use for hand washing.

Pansacola said Dalia only — premium refined coconut oil for its natural herbal soap products and herbal essences.

"Our products are as natural as possible. Our natural herbal products are organic, natural, and made from local materials. For consumers, it is safe and healthy. And they help the farmers and our economy. For the environment, it is fully biodegradable and does not use fossil fuels. Whereas fossil fuel is not replaceable in a thousand years, coconut oil is replaceable in 45 days," she said.

Victoria Herbal Soap has won awards and recognitions from the International community.

Natural Herbal Products made in the Philippines

*** Written by Irma Isip and published in a local newspaper