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Chinese pollution expected to create demand for 3M products

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The chief executive officer of Maplewood-based 3M expects the company's sales in China to grow three times faster than its total revenue, driven by demand for health and safety products like face masks and water filters.

Bloomberg quoted CEO Inge Thulin, who said 3M is targeting annual sales growth of about 15 percent in China over the next five years. That compares to global growth targets of four to six percent.

Thulin expects that the Minnesota conglomerate, best known for its Post-it notes and adhesives, to make headway in the Chinese market with its array of safety, consumer and health care products. China's government is tackling the country's persistent air pollution problem, which has become a hot-button social issue. Last month, the government said it would spend the U.S equivalent of $330 billion to address pollution and scarce water resources.

A story published last year on eChinacities, an English language website in China, carried a how-to article about choosing the right face mask to combat the pollution problem. "It is well known that China’s biggest cities have poor air quality as a result of industrialization," the story said, adding that, "...scientific studies now provide evidence that high-efficiency face masks can actually improve cardiovascular health when exposed to poor air quality." It goes on to praise the 3M products. "The most reliable single-use masks are produced by 3M," the story said.

On Monday, the Motley Fool website pointed to a strong performance by 3M as one of the reasons the Dow Jones Industrial average started the week strong despite the political upheaval in Russia. The financial site noted that "...3Mhas also ramped up the pace of its innovation lately, with new announcements ranging from patents on nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode technology for lithium-ion batteries to water-filtration systems pointing the way toward potential growth areas for the manufacturing conglomerate."

Earlier this week, the Star Tribune reported that 3M has announced an expansion of its residential water business that will lead and will soon have hundreds of dealers selling 3M-branded water softeners and kitchen-sink filters to homeowners. The story said that 3M’s residential water division has contracted with 35 full-service dealers, including one in Minnesota. The products are meant to compete with Culligan, Pentair and other water-filtration giants.

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