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Company History
From state mines to specialty company

There are few companies, and even fewer successful chemical companies with a history to match that of DSM. Companies that have changed so much over time, reinvented themselves, repeatedly adjusted to changing circumstances and that, like us, are still fulfilling the promise of those modest beginnings in 1902. This was when the Dutch government formed the nationalized coal company ‘De Nederlandse Staatsmijnen’ (Dutch State Mines), later DSM.

As the mining operation grew so did the company’s coal-processing operation. This gave rise to a growing by-product, coke oven gas. This was turned into a profitable commodity, ammonia, an ingredient in nitrogenous fertilizers. By diversifying in this way, DSM avoided the fate that would ultimately close down so many coalmines.

DSM is active worldwide in life science and nutritional products, performance materials and industrial chemicals. The company creates innovative products and services that help improve the quality of life. DSM’s products are being applied in a wide range of end markets and applications such as human and animal nutrition and health, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, automotive and transport, coatings, housing and electrics & electronics (E & E). The group has annual sales (pro forma including the recent acquisition - renamed DSM Nutritional Products) of approximately EUR 8 billion and employs in the region of 25,000 people around the world. DSM ranks among the global leaders in many of its fields. DSM is headquartered in the Netherlands, with locations in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

New opportunity

In the post-war era, chemical products became more prominent. Once again, DSM saw an opportunity and seized it, providing industrial chemicals and raw materials for synthetic fibers and yarns. It was not long after this that worldwide use of coal began to decline; oil and natural gas were much more profitable and coal was more polluting. By the 1960s, coal production was waning sharply and in 1975, the Dutch Prime Minister officially closed the country’s last mine. Fortunately, DSM had anticipated this and quickly started changing its focus. By 1970 chemicals and fertilizers comprised the company’s chief activity, accounting for two-thirds of its turnover. Petrochemicals then took center stage. In just twelve years profits from raw materials for plastics grew by a factor of fourteen. No mean feat, especially in view of the fact that DSM had to fight its way into a market dominated by major companies with long-established names.

In the 1970s and ’80s DSM underwent major reorganizations to ensure itself of sufficient scale, greater guarantees for market consumption, and diversification into high-quality plastics and fine chemicals. After 1985, DSM developed a series of ambitious innovation projects resulting in specialties such as the polyethylene fiber Dyneema, the strongest fiber on earth.

In 1989 DSM was privatized and listed publicly. During the 1990s, the company paid greater attention to creating a balance between commerce and research and developing value-adding processes and products, particularly products for the pharmaceutical and the food industries and performance materials for the automotive and transport industry and the electrics and electronics sector.

Stay out in front

In 2002 DSM completed the sale of its petrochemicals operation in anticipation of future market movements. This was followed by the acquisition of Roche’s Vitamins & Fine Chemicals Division in October 2003, which was subsequently renamed DSM Nutritional Products.

DSM Nutritional Products produces ingredients to protect, correct, vitalize and strengthen skin and hair.
We offer our customers in the cosmetics industry a world-leading portfolio of vitamins, bioactive ingredients and UV filters. Our Personal Care R & D department is involved in the discovery and development of technically superior new ingredients for skin care, sun care and hair care products.

  • Vitamins

Vitamins help to confer protection, correction and renewal ofhair, skin and nails. Addition of vitamins at the proper levels in formulated vehicles can enhance the performance of cosmetic and toiletries. Of particular interest in cosmetics are Vitamins A, E, C, D, Panthenol (pro-Vitamin B5), Vitamins B3, B6, K1, Biotin (Vitamin H).


  • UV filters

Ingredients, which absorb, reflect, or block harmful ultraviolet A and B radiation. They are formulated into sun care products to give a specific SPF number. As the damage to skin and hair resulting from daily exposure to sunlight is uncovered, UV filters are also becoming popular in day care products, such as moisturisers, shampoo, conditioners and leave-on. UV filters are also used to protect the integrity of cosmetic products, ensuring the colour and the fragrance do not change over time. Our UV filters are marketed under the exclusive PARSOL® brand.

Other speciality ingredients

  • Phytantriol is used in hair care to protect against mechanical damage & hot blow-drying.
  • Omega-6 Oils (Borage Oil and Evening Primrose Oil) are natural skin moisturisers.
  • Carotenoids such as beta-carotene or lycopene are used as colorants or antioxidants in skin care and lip care.
  • Emulsifiers enable the harmonious integration between the oil phase and the aquenous phase resulting in cosmetic products that give an elegant feel and a brilliant shine. Our emulsifiers are marketed under the exclusive AMPHISOL® brand.
  • TEAVIGO™ is positioned as pure (>94% on dry basis) EGCG, the major active component from green tea, with the potential to innovate oral care products based on the following target benefits:
        • Anti-plaque / anti-caries
        • Anti-gingivitis
        • Combats bad breath

No other single natural ingredient of constant and high quality is known to address three major concerns of oral health simultaneously.

Contact Details

DSM Nutritional Products Ltd
PO Box 2676
Building 241
CH-4002 Basel

Tel: +41 61 815 8888
Fax: +41 61 815 8880