Business

Cake soap company lightens Kartel's claim

Deejay's producers approached Blue Power to use soap-making machinery in video

Alicia Roache roachea@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2011    

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Dr Dhiru Tanna, chairman of Blue Power Group limited, soap manufacturer and building retailer, has rubbished claims that the popular 'blue soap' or 'cake soap' made by his company, has any skin lightening effect, or that the controversy surrounding the product has increased sales.

"Blue soap does not bleach. It has no ingredients in it that damages the skin," Tanna said. "If anybody is saying that it will discolour the skin or take off pigmentation that is absolutely not true," he told the Business Observer.

Tanna also denied claims that as a result of the popularity of the song the price of the soap or the sales of his products have increased.

On the other hand, he told the Business Observer that "one of Vybz Kartel's producers called us to use one of the machines we use to make the soap appear in his video."

He said he agreed to the use of the machine but with the caveat that "they must tell people that the blue soap that we make will have no effect on bleaching the skin". Tanna said he was assured that this would be done. Vybz Kartel has since released a follow up song, 'Cake Soap' for which the video was shot, but in neither of the songs has he explicitly claimed that the soap causes bleaching.

Tanna said his product is a laundry detergent and even though there are varieties, which can be used for personal care, none of the soaps that Blue Power produces has the effect of lightening the skin.

"No, our company would not have the technology. We make laundry and bathing soaps. I don't know how to make anything else," Tanna said, explaining that his company is now focused on extending into the bathing soap market, which he "has not even begun to touch".

Kartel has himself expressed the desire to manufacture his own brand of 'cake soaps', but Tanna said Blue Power, which is the largest manufacturer of laundry detergent in Jamaica, was not approached to make it, and that despite Blue Power's expertise in making soaps, it would not be a business line he would consider going into at this point.

He said he was told by Kartel's camp that the proposed soap would be a medicated soap for acne.

Tanna explained that a medicated soap would most likely be made overseas and imported into Jamaica with a higher cost base than currently obtains for the soaps that Blue Power manufactures.

"If he is importing medicated soap then it would be coming from abroad and with the duty structure it would be in a different market from us," Tanna said. "Making soap is quite a complex business, you need an extensive distribution network and a manufacturing establishment."

Kartel ignited a fire storm of controversy, and multiple musical counteractions, when he claimed in an interview that the reason for his noticeably lighter complexion was as a result of the use of 'cake soap' combined with the effect of air conditioning. The use of 'cake soap' to enhance the complexion was initially referenced in his song 'Straight Jeans and Fitted' in which the most popular line was "cool like mi wash mi face wid the cake soap".

Blue Power Group became the first manufacturing company to be listed on the Junior Stock Exchange in April last year. The soap and hardware conglomerate, founded over a decade ago, currently enjoys a 40 per cent market share in the soap manufacturing and distribution business in Jamaica. With the soap manufacturing operations on Victoria Avenue off Windward Road, the hardware operations is located in Papine and books revenue of over $40 million per month. For the second quarter ended October 31, 2010, Blue Power Limited posted a 77.3 per cent increase in net profit resulting in a gain of $3.7 million over the corresponding second quarter of 2009.

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