Lisbon – The distinctive smell of new flexible polyurethane products could make it an unacceptable material in the future. This warning was given to delegates at the EuroPUR meeting in mid-June by Kacper Krecioch, an engineering and quality leader at Ikea.
'There is no doubt that foam is the best comfort material in the world. But when it comes to the smell, we are far, far away,' Krecioch said.
In the next 20-30 years, he said, almost half the world's population will be in Asia and 65% of the world's middle class will be there. Historically, Western consumers have driven standards and definitions of quality, with performance and service life the most important components in product quality.
The growing population in Asia will drive a greater focus on safety and health aspects of a product, he said. 'Most people associate something which smells unpleasant with high toxicity,' he said. 'All our businesses depend on the end customer.'
Social media makes it easy for a disgruntled consumers to spread the word to tens or hundreds of other potential buyers, he added. This makes it important that products always meet consumers' expectations.
'Ikea is ready to cooperate with you and be more proactive when it comes to smell, odour and VOC,' he told the meeting. 'It is our promise to our customers that we will work with everyone to share that with the same vision. Why? Foam will not have a good future. It will be phased out by springs, by different types of materials.'