Quality in Chemical Production is in Rapid Decline

The adage that you “get what you pay for” is very true for practically everything, including chemicals. The demand for low cost chemicals has meant manufacturers are either removing or substituting expensive inputs from the end product.  The resultant chemical may be masking future problems and is in stark contrast to the direction of the wine industry.
The wine industry has been working hard to change the perception of Australian wines.  No doubt, Australia is still making some pretty good low cost wines, however industry bodies are all in agreement that longer term the money is in quality, not quantity.
“…longer term, producers will move towards premium wines, which will bode well for margins and industry profitability.” – Ibis world
We can see this in the sales figures too. 
Australian wine sales declined 6% last year, yet the value has increased by 2% (Wine Australia Annual Report).
While no-one will argue that saving costs in wine production is important, longer term making a better quality ‘drop’ is the direction of the industry.  However, wineries looking to save on cleaning and sanitation chemicals need to be careful.  While wine as an industry in Australia is moving towards a premium price bracket, most chemical manufacturers and suppliers are doing the opposite to secure sales. 
There is a significant push towards reducing costs in chemical manufacturing while increasing sales by volume or weight.  This is concerning as wineries are facing greater environmental constraints, in order to reduce the amount of chemical being consumed in an effort to be more sustainable.
Saving money in chemical production is pretty simple.  Common cost reduction is by reducing material activity via substitution (taking a more expensive compound and replacing with a cheaper input); introducing water soluble fillers (near neutral compounds that have no impact but weight) and lowering the total active ingredients percentage (so more of the product is required to complete the job). 
They all have similar themes – the customer will need more chemical to complete the job therefore increasing cost with more purchasing.  Another measure chemical producers use to lower costs is to use the same product across multiple industries. Customers should be quite concerned about the composition of the cleaning product they’re using.
Substitution can lead to inputs that are not ideally fit for wine production.  Common examples are surfactants which are not completely free-rinsing or do not have hydrotroping properties; chelates and water sequestrants that are not in formulated products or at an insufficient quantity to be effective; and silicates which are film-forming.
Sodium metasilicate (di-sodium metasilicate) appears in some laundry detergents because of the low foaming and lubricity properties theoretically assisting with soil anti re-deposition (no surface charge on garment fibre) silica coating.
Worryingly, sodium metasilicate has been transferred to wine hygiene products offered by other companies.  It’s cheap and with a pH-12 it is on the border-line for dangerous goods (Technically they are Classified as a DG. Silicates can be mixed with other high pH chemicals to maintain a high aggregate pH, or, be used in a greater proportion to reduce the pH of alkali hydroxides pH 13-14). 
The key reason that silicates are not fit for wine production is because they create a surface layer after cleaning.  Each time the tank is washed a little more silicate is deposited and over time, it enables chemical films to form on the surfaces of tanks. These films often contain residues of alkali-denatured wine soils which, within and behind the film, yeast, microbes and other bacteria reside in the tank establishing a great risk to the overall quality of the wine.
A low to very low price for hygiene products may mean you are purchasing latent problems, or paying a lot more than you should for non-active substances or carriers such as water. 
Wine Australia Annual Report