"We mobilized extraordinary measures of production, logistics, customer installations and personnel to supply countries and regions in need, despite having no historical footprint in some locations."
How significant is Air Liquide’s presence in Latin America, and which markets are the company’s strongest?
Air Liquide has been operating in Latin America for more than 80 years and has presence in nine countries, with the key markets being Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Throughout Air Liquide’s tenure in Latin America, we have been able to capture synergies by leveraging our expertise in all facets of the industry across the region. Our role of enhancing innovation and profitable growth in healthcare and industrial markets are key to our presence in Latin America.
Can you explain Air Liquide’s role in helping to address the oxygen crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Producing and delivering oxygen is a significant part of Air Liquide’s business, representing in excess of 25% of the company’s activities in Latin America. We are primarily involved in the medical gas sector, with the main product being medical oxygen for hospitals, and the second being respiratory services for patients, either in hospital or at home. As a leading provider of concentrators and respirators for Covid patients, we have supplied oxygen to more than 3,600 hospitals across Latam, and respiratory services to over 165,000 patients. The demand for medical oxygen more than doubled during the peaks of the pandemic. In addition to our efforts to reliably supply our customers throughout times of extreme demand, we prioritized the safety, care and well-being of our employees, patients and the communities in which we operate. We mobilized extraordinary measures of production, logistics, customer installations and personnel to supply countries and regions in need, despite having no historical footprint in some locations.
What are the current demand dynamics in the gas sector in Latam, and how do you see this developing for the rest of 2021?
Industrial demand makes up more than two thirds of our business. It started to regain momentum in the second half of 2020, and has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2021. We believe that we are going to see continuous demand growth as countries such as Brazil and Argentina start to recover from even pre-pandemic economic recessions. Mexico, another key market, is currently benefiting from the US recovery, and we have seen a lot of activity there so far this year.
It is good news that demand for medical gas now seems to have passed its peak (as of July 2021), however, levels are still very high and should remain so for the rest of the year.
What are Air Liquide’s main goals and objectives to achieve in Latin America by the end of 2022?
We are looking at the world beyond the pandemic, leveraging the change that Covid-19 has accelerated. This includes digital transformation, which brings the opportunity to lay the foundations for lasting growth for our portfolio. Air Liquide will continue to play an important role in the healthcare sector with our renewed offer for medical gas and improved patient experience, and we expect to grow as the industrial sector rebounds. Finally, we aim to continuously improve the way we work to ensure the health and safety of our employees.
The expansion of our role in the industrial market to offer new sustainable solutions is a key component to meet our own ESG ambitions. Furthermore, it remains our consistent priority to transform the way we work to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our employees, customers, patients and the communities in which we operate.