Shima's Stories 5

We respond to user needs in ways that contribute to sustainable resource utilization.


More people are using Petrolatum because of skin problems resulting from aging or the increased use of disinfectants. Users have asked us to enhance the product’s comfort in use.
We adjusted the ingredients of the product to reduce stickiness and improve spreadability without compromising its functions and quality as a medical product.
We will develop products that meet user needs while also using resources sustainably.

Related SDGs

Key Person

Pharmaceuticals & Cosmetics Division
Cosmetics Department

He joined Shima Trading in 2014 after graduating from university. He chose Shima Trading because he wanted to work for a company in which he would be able to play a frontline role in business as part of a small organization of talented people. Since then he has been involved in Vaseline-related R&D in the Pharmaceuticals & Cosmetics Division. He sees the small scale of the organization as an advantage, because it allows him to communicate more closely with consumers and maintain an overview of the entire business. He sees his decision to join Shima Trading as a success and is happy to be involved in frontline efforts to create products that will become new sources of income in the future.

Comfort a key issue for the growing Petrolatum user base

A key product for Shima Trading for many years, Petrolatum is used as an ointment base and for various other purposes. Demand is stronger than ever because of the growing prevalence of skin problems due to the accelerating expansion of the aged population, the increasing number of allergy sufferers, and the use of hand sterilizers to prevent infections.
 This growth in the user base has been accompanied by an increase in user input about the stickiness of the product. For several years we have been working with a pharmaceutical manufacturer to expand the range of products with enhanced comfort in use. This research has also helped to reduce environmental loads. Because Petrolatum is used as a pharmaceutical ingredient, quality stability over long periods is an imperative. For this reason, many of the petroleum-derived ingredients as main raw materials cannot easily be replaced with natural substances. By reducing stickiness and improving spreadability, we can reduce the amount used per application, which in turn helps to reduce the amount of petroleum resources used.

Maximizing Petrolatum’s potential while complying with stringent requirements for pharmaceutical products

Because the ingredients of Petrolatum cannot readily be substituted, the only practical way to enhance the product was by adjusting the relative amounts of each ingredient. However, the formula could not be changed radically, and we therefore created subtly reformulated versions, which a manufacturer used to create prototype products. The comfort in use of each version was then assessed by test users. This cycle was repeated many times. Because the effects of adjustments on this level cannot be measured by machines, we relied on user interviews. At times those involved struggled to communicate about subtle nuances. However, this trial-and-error cycle was eventually successful, and Petrolatum versions with various comfort in use are now available on the market. We aim to expand the range further, and to develop uses for Petrolatum other than as an ointment base.

Key Point

Building a future as a trading company capable of proposing new product ideas to manufacturers

Without full in-house research capabilities, our ability to enhance Petrolatum was inevitably limited. Because Petrolatum is used as a raw material, we need to assess whether changes in its composition will lead to improvements in final pharmaceutical products. However, while we could modify the material ourselves, we had to rely on manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry to prepare and assess samples of final products containing . Petrolatum
 We have therefore established our own Pharmaceuticals Laboratory. Our first goal is to gather comprehensive basic data about the properties of Petrolatum and its feel and comfort in use. This will allow us to present proposals that will be more convincing. Instead of awaiting development proposals from manufacturers and supplying suitable products, we aim to reverse the process by offering product proposals to manufacturers. We hope that this will be the first step toward the creation of a new vision for the future of Shima Trading.