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PCPC Leads Off Annual Meeting With Coronavirus Remarks: “A Significant New World Overnight”

PCPC Leads Off Annual Meeting With Coronavirus Remarks: “A Significant New World Overnight”

02 Mar 2020

Ryan Nelson

Executive Summary

Coronavirus was a factor in attendance of the Personal Care Products Council’s 2020 annual meeting in Palm Beach, FL. Opening the conference on 2 March, chairman George Calvert, chief supply chain officer at Amway, discussed with CEO Lezlee Westine the epidemic’s ongoing impact on supply networks and global cosmetics business.


The Personal Care Products Council kicked off its 2020 annual meeting with a dialogue between president and CEO Lezlee Westine and chairman George Calvert, chief supply chain officer at Amway, on industry’s key priorities and concerns in a changing world fraught with challenges.

Coronavirus was an early topic of discussion during the 2 March plenary session. According to PCPC, the event’s attendance in Palm Beach, FL, was impacted amid growing reports of coronavirus cases and deaths overseas and, now, stateside.

Calvert spoke to the virus’ implications for global business.

“Almost overnight in China during the New Year celebration, all of the sudden we’ve got this incredible outbreak that has hit just about every consumer products company around the world in some way,” he said. (Also see “Estee Lauder Companies: Coronavirus Will Drag On Growth Engines In FY 2020 Back Half ” – HBW Insight, 7 Feb, 2020.)

In this environment, “anti-epidemic” products are in high demand, from hand sanitizers to air treatment systems, straining supply networks, according to Calvert.

“If you have a 500% spike in vitamin C [demand], which we saw, that spike alone is equivalent to our global volume for the rest of the world for a year,” he said. “So finding that amount of ascorbic acid, packaging, whatever it might be, to meet that demand, is stunning.”

He continued, “The supply chain for a lot of these materials is coming from China. Can we get the initial supplies of these? Yeah, probably. Because a lot of the brokers have some somewhere in a warehouse. It’s that secondary supply that’s going to be the problem.”

Calvert noted that unlike anti-epidemic products, some non-essential product sales have slowed, a deceleration that PCPC expects to continue as coronavirus infections spread.

“This isn’t just a one-and-done in China. This is how it rolls out across the world. We’re going to have to be ready both from a product standpoint as well as a supply chain standpoint to combat that,” Calvert said. (Also see “Colgate Offers ‘Anti-Aging’ Toothpaste In China, Ready For ‘Prolonged’ Coronavirus” – HBW Insight, 25 Feb, 2020.)

He then touched on an issue that, in its worst manifestations, has triggered the attention of the US Federal Trade Commission – ie, opportunistic marketing that capitalizes on coronavirus fears.

“One of the things we obviously have to be very careful about in this type of situation is overclaims, and making sure that we don’t say things that are not true about what products are capable of doing and what they’re not doing,” Calvert said.

He concluded, “It’s a significant new world overnight.”

Editor’s note: Stay tuned for further coverage of PCPC’s 2020 annual meeting as it unfolds.