The Business Year

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Juan Felipe Isaza

General Manager, Kimberly-Clark Colombia, Vice-President Kimberly-Clark North Latin America

Andrés González

President, Unilever Colombia

In addition to investing heavily on production and increasing capacities, FMCG companies are also taking consumer sentiment into account and working on being more sustainable.

To what do you attribute the firm’s exceptional success in Colombia?

JUAN FELIPE ISAZA Kimberly-Clark has been present in Colombia for over 50 years, and we are a global company that was established 150 years ago. In the case of Colombia, we are greatly committed to building trust in the company, which is why we promote trust and dialogue between our stakeholders and across our supply chain with high standards of ethics and transparency. Today, the country produces over 63 million diapers and more than 97 million feminine care products in a monthly basis. Most of those are consumed in Colombia, though the remainder are exported to other Latin American countries, US, and even European markets. Innovation is one of the company’s core values, and it goes hand in hand with a review of our 360-degree approach. We take into account not only the scientific, legal, and commercial aspects, but also, more importantly, we place the consumer at the center of all our decisions.

What is your business development plan for Unilever in Colombia?

ANDRÉS GONZÁLEZ 2020 was a year of mixed results, with the homecare and beauty categories hit extremely hard by the pandemic, and the food business showing extremely strong performance. It was an opportunity to strengthen some of our core abilities like e-commerce and our in-house food brands. Our food business is growing by double digits, though the company’s results showed a small decline YoY, as they are tied to a complex mix of categories. Even though it has been a tough year, we continue to invest heavily in Colombia. In 2021, President Duque inaugurated our new factory in Palmira, Valle del Cauca, where we are doing two things. We seek to boost our export capacity; our exports have grown over 135% in the last three years. We are also trying to locally manufacture some of the brands that we were importing from other countries.

In February 2021, Kimberly-Clark announced it would be investing USD80 million in the country. What is the reason behind recent investments in Colombia?

JFI Our investment in Colombia serves to demonstrate our belief in the potential of the market, not only as a prime business—given that part of our products are sold in Colombia and others are exported—but also as a promoter of talent. The main inspiration behind the investment is the three-year commitment we have made to Colombia regarding manufacturing and cutting-edge technology. This takes place in the three main manufacturing mills we have locally. The first is in Papeles de Cauca, located near Cali. There, we produce paper and wipes, with almost 70% of wipes being exported. The second is in Tocancipa, near Bogotá, where we produce diapers and feminine care products. That is more balanced; 50% of production is destined for the local market, with the rest exported. Our third mill is in Barbosa. There, 70% of production is related to Kimberly-Clark Professional products, especially for restaurants and offices. The remaining 30% concerns more commercial products, and around 80% is exported, while 20% remains in the Colombian market.

Which product lines are driving business growth in Colombia?

AG Growth during a pandemic is extremely hard; if you continue to be competitive, you are doing a good job. For example, across business lines we are gaining market share, even if volume is declining. Our fast-moving business right now is the food business due to the change in habits of Colombian consumers. When it comes to our best-performing brands, we are doing an excellent job with our hair portfolio of shampoos and conditioners. We are competing strongly with the Dove brand, which has been gaining market share and is becoming one of the favorite brands for Colombian consumer. We also have a local brand called Savital that is the market leader right now, and it has been extremely successful with its latest launch of an anti-dandruff version. Product innovation is extremely important at Unilever. In the detergent market, we have two brands: Fab, a premium brand; and a new local brand called 3D. The 3D brand is a winning proposition because it fits in the new multi-purpose segment. This product has been a revolution and is a great innovation for the Colombian market.



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