Procter & Gamble is expected to modify the formula of its Charmin toilet roll brand – advertised as “staying strong even when wet” – after rivals SCA Hygiene and Fort James lent their weight to an earlier claim by Kimberly-Clark (K-C) that it could cause serious sewerage blockages.
SCA and Fort James are understood to have both conducted research which they believe proves Charmin is unsuitable for UK sewerage systems.
The brand launched in February with a &£27m ad campaign through D’Arcy.
Industry body the Association of Makers of Soft Tissue Products (AMSTP) has called a meeting to determine once and for all whether Charmin dissolves quickly enough in sewerage systems or needs to be modified.
The meeting will be held later this week and will involve P&G, K-C, SCA, which makes Kleenex, and Fort James, which produces the Kittensoft and Nouvelle brands.
It will establish the first industry standard for the dissolvability and dispersal of toilet tissue.
While there is currently no industry standard, K-C, SCA and Fort James – which, as the three biggest manufacturers, will have most of the say when agreeing the new standard – acknowledge that Charmin’s current formula is likely to fail any new measure they agree.
In March, Marketing Week revealed that K-C, Thames Water and South West Water wanted clarification from P&G that Charmin would not increase the chances of blocking a pipe or filter (MW March 23).
In a press statement at the time, P&G public affairs and media director Gary Cunningham said: “There is a lot of twisting of the facts here to produce a sensationalist story which is wrong.”
Jim Bradley, chairman of AMSTP and UK country manager of SCA declines to comment on the meetings.
John Bailey, technical external relations director at P&G, denies that SCA, and Fort James have presented research undermining Charmin and says the talks are progressing well.