Well gentlemen, I have had the opportunity to speak on the phone with Laura Pujal and Esther Puig, from the technical department of Henkel Iberica and have maintained a very good conversation.
The first thing I must say it that the la Toja creams and stick are made in Germany, not in Slovakia, and by Henkel, not by a sub-contracted company. The Manantiales soap was indeed made in Spain.
Also I have spoken about the forum and about the resurgence of traditional shaving in these last days, caused by the increasing prices of multi-blade systems/gels/foams, which has caused many men to decide to begin to shave as their grandparents and their parents did in the past, and return to the basics of soap/cream, brush and razor/straight, and of course, La Toja and its products (soap and shaving cream) are part of those classic shaving Spanish companies (now not so Spanish..) that we remembered or associate with it. They know that there is also an emerging market - it is not only grandpa that shaves with La Toja nowadays.
At Henkel, it seems that they are concerned about the emails they have received about allergic reactions that some have suffered with the use of the current sticks. I explained that the ingredient coconut acid is one of those causes, as there are people who have used the current stick (with coconut acid) and old (without coconut acid) and the former do not cause this reaction. I have also commented that the versions with tallow (old) worked much better than the current ones and a lot of people had noticed the same thing. They say that the current version has tallow, as the Potassium and Sodium Stearate come from animal fat. So now, La Toja is not a 100% vegetable soap but has animal fat/oil (tallow).
We talked about how they have requested samples to people who are allergic, as they have said that Henkel Group have very strict quality controls over its products, and they also said they are tested and re-tested to avoid allergic reactions before being placed on the market They want to test sticks which gave allergic reaction to see if there's been errors in production. I have told them that this only happens with the new sticks, not with the old ones. They also were a little amazed that those sticks with 25 or more years were found in perfect condition without being rancid.
So, they ask to all the people that have allergic problems with the stick, to send a sample to them, so that they can analyse it. They say that they will be happy to send samples of their products to the people that do so, and that they will be very thankful for that.
Also the La Toja Manantiales soap in a bowl was mentioned. I explained that many people loved this soap and that is has selling very well outside, but because of the group policy Henkel applies to La Toja, only the sales in our country [Spain] prevailed. They also said that they'll talk to the appropriate department to see if there is a possibility to relaunch the product again. I told them that the soap had a different formulation to the current stick, without coconut acid, and for many, it worked a little or a lot better than the current stick. I have said nothing about changing their packaging, only about the comeback.
They knew about our request to Lascaray SL and how LEA has now introduced its new tallow soap stick, because they had read it on the Spanish forum (they have said that they liked it) and also know they nowadays have serious competition by LEA. [read more about this in this thread
Anyway, they know that there are people who think that the old bars of La Toja work best than the current ones, what we notice it and they seem interested about improving the product, as they have been told and re-told several times. They said that brought to the attention of relevant departments all the requests that we have made to make a stick with the old formulation of La Toja (with tallow), to remove the coconut acid (well, if they return to an old formulation they will, because that was not among the original ingredients) and to relaunch the la Toja Manantiales soap.
They have been very kind in all their explanations and questions and you could tell that they really wanted to know more. Now the ball is in their court. They know the forum [the Spanish one], have read and know that La Toja is a company still loved by many and that they cannot lower the quality of their products. Now we have to wait, but I'm hopeful that this will go ahead and that we will enjoy a La Toja stick just like the ones that our fathers and grandfathers used to enjoy, and that the La Toja Manantiales will be relaunched again.
Truly, it was a pleasure talking to these two lovely ladies, and I trust that they will communicate our point of view to the relevant departments of their company.