Asia-Pacific demand to drive polyurethanes industry growth: Report
The global polyurethanes market revenue has been estimated at $33-bn in 2010 and is forecast to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8% between 2011 and 2016. The growth is being driven by the Asia-Pacific region, which has emerged as the largest consumer of polyurethane products in recent years. These trends are reported in a new market research report on methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI), toluene di-isocyanate (TDI), and polyurethanes prepared by consultancy firm MarketsandMarkets. Polyurethane is one of the most widely used plastics in the world, finding applications in almost all modern industries. Polyurethanes are made primarily by reacting diisocyanates with polyols and other chemicals. Owing to their large-scale use in manufacturing polyurethanes, MDI and TDI are high tonnage products and comprise about 90% of the total diisocyanates market.
Asia pacific driving demand
Asia-Pacific, especially China has traditionally been the largest producer and exporter of polyurethane materials, owing to availability of cheap labour, raw materials and local government support. Robust growth of over 7% in key end-user industries such as construction, automotive, furniture and electronics has resulted in Asia-Pacific dominating the demand for polyurethanes with market share of 40.2% in 2010, the report revealed. MarketsandMarkets estimates polyurethane demand in Asia-Pacific to reach 7,469.21-kt (kilotons) in 2016, at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2011 to 2016. In comparison with Asia Pacific, North America and Europe are significantly more mature and are expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.2% and 4.3% for the same period, respectively.
Focus on sustainable solutions
Similar to the case of other plastics such as LDPE (low density polyethylene), bio-based raw materials present significant opportunities for the polyurethane industry, especially for leading market participants such as Huntsman Corporation (US), Bayer MaterialScience (Germany) and so on, all of whom have been focusing on developing bio-based polyurethanes. The report points out that, with growing concerns regarding the dependence on fossil fuels and impact of plastics on the environment, the polyurethanes industry is continuously striving for sustainability in business practices. Also, the recent volatility in crude oil prices which have seen record highs, record lows and are now again on the rise has had a significant impact on the profitability of the polyurethane industry. Industry participants need to focus on developing renewable feedstock for polyurethanes as well as finding alternative production method in order to exclude the use of highly toxic and hazardous chemicals such as phosgene.
Dominance of select end-user industries
Polyurethanes are mainly used in the form of rigid and flexible foams across a host of industries. However, polyurethane demand is dominated by furniture, construction, electronics and automotive industries, which together accounted for 73% of the total demand in 2010. The report identifies electronics and automotive industries as key areas for polyurethanes in the near future. The demand for polyurethanes in these industries is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 7.3% and 7.2% from 2011 to 2016, respectively.