Since launching Japan’s first anti-bacterial soap dispensers in 1952, Saraya has developed several groundbreaking solutions in the field of health and hygiene and today has positioned itself at the forefront of improving sanitation in Africa.
The lack of infrastructure in the aftermath of World War II left Japan with poor public sanitation, which led to the spread of disease and food poisoning across the nation.
It was during this post-war period that Shota Saraya, founder of the company that still bears his name, realized the need for improved hand hygiene in hospitals, restaurants and other public facilities, and tasked himself with finding a solution.
Established in 1952, Saraya Co. Ltd. developed Japan’s first antibacterial liquid soaps in dispensers to replace unhygienic bar soap in public wash rooms. Almost seven decades on and this Osaka-based firm is a world-leading supplier of healthcare and hygiene products, including hand sanitizers and dispensers, disinfectants, food sanitizers, detergents, shampoos and moisturizers.
As the company has grown over the years, one thing that has remained is Shota’s spirit of innovation, which has enabled Saraya to develop groundbreaking solutions in the field of health and hygiene and position itself at the forefront of improving global sanitation.
Innovation and the environment
Sustainability and the environment are as much a priority for Saraya as health and hygiene. Since the launch of its coconut oil-based detergents in the 1970s as an answer to the water pollution caused by petroleum-based detergents, it has been committed to developing environmentally friendly solutions, using natural ingredients and RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.
With innovation at its core since inception, Saraya launched the world’s first no-touch, automatic hand sanitizing dispenser back in 1982. Today, its R&D team works in collaboration with research institutes, universities and hospitals to create innovative health and hygiene products, while also exploring the possibilities of the latest IoT and sensor technologies in food sanitation.
Yusuke Saraya, President, Saraya Co. Ltd.
“The Japanese love sashimi and it is important to have accurate control of the temperature of the fish. So we have introduced temperature sensors that collect data and allow employees to better manage temperature. It is our first trial and we are now present in 20 to 30 supermarkets,” explains president, Yusuke Saraya.
“In addition, we are also developing sensors to put in the bread, which thanks to IoT, will enable us to monitor the fermentation process. This is currently under development, but we aim to launch it by next year. We are always looking to find new innovative products to assist the needs of our customers, and I believe we will soon be dispatching new products using IoT and other market applications.”
Another of Saraya’s innovations was the Lakanto Natural Zero Calorie Sweetener, which has proven a hit for the company in the United States. “The U.S. is currently avoiding carbonated sugar, so this market has great potential and we are currently the only ones in the market that have this type of natural sweetener,” adds Mr. Saraya.
Growing international presence
Having established its excellent reputation in Japan, Saraya began its international expansion in the mid-90s. In 2015, the company set up Guilin Saraya Biotech in China, as well as Saraya USA in order to bring its quality sustainable hygiene products to customers in North America.
With a strengthening presence across the globe, Saraya is not only providing solutions in more developed markets, where growing consumer awareness for hand hygiene and hand sanitizers bodes well for the company’s international growth strategy, but has also committed itself to supporting improving sanitation standards in Africa.
Saraya launched its ‘Wash a Million Hands’ Project in Uganda in 2010, followed by the ‘100% Hospital Hand Hygiene’ Project in 2012 to support Ugandan patients and nurses by promoting the use of hand disinfectant. Since then, use of its automatic sanitizer dispensers has spread to several African countries.
“We believe it is our obligation to promote hand-hygiene in Africa. We would like to implement educational programs and ensure everyone has access to hand sanitizer,” says Mr. Saraya, who adds that he also wants to introduce body sensors that will improve disease monitoring on the continent, where for many getting to a doctor or clinic can be extremely difficult due to the lack of healthcare facilities.
Amid its drive to improve healthcare and sanitation in Africa, Saraya is also expanding its presence in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and India, as it aims to bring more of its innovative health and sanitation solutions to a growing global customer base.