Glycolic acid is an acid of the Alpha Hydroxyl Group, which is obtained naturally from fruits and vegetables such as sugar beets, unripe grapes, pineapple, and sugarcane. It can be manufactured commercially using formaldehyde. Application areas of the glycolic acid include personal care products (skin and hair care), household cleaning (rust removal and degreasing), industrial products (medical sutures and PET bottles) and others. Growth in demand for anti-aging products among the young population is expected to fuel the demand for glycolic acid. The manufacture of Polyglycolic acid (PGA) is a key application segment in the glycolic acid market which is expected to grow at a considerable pace. PGA, which is derived from glycolic acid, is biodegradable in nature and is used in the manufacturing of medical sutures. Glycolic acid is crystalline, odorless and colorless in nature and is excellent at exfoliation along with removing scars and reducing fine lines due to high acidity and easy solubility. This leads to glycolic acid being an essential ingredient in anti-aging creams, shampoos, ointments, face peels, moisturizers, etc. Demand for skin care and hair care products is increasing due to customer awareness which will directly affect the glycolic acid demand. However, alternative products such as salicylic acid and inhibitions regarding the excessive concentration of glycolic acid will restrain the market growth in the future. The FDA categorizes any product having higher than 10% of glycolic acid concentration as hazardous. The biggest possible threat of using a higher concentration of glycolic acid is the possibility of skin burns, which is an irreparable damage. Consumers are aware of this facet of glycolic acid and often avoid using highly concentrated glycolic acid for face treatment in spite of its benefits.
Personal care was the largest application segment of the market accounting for over 60% of the market in 2013 and is expected to witness the fastest growth at an estimated CAGR of 11.7% from 2014 to 2020. The dominance of the market is primarily due to the growing awareness of the benefits offered by glycolic acid in personal care products such as exfoliation and anti-aging. The use of glycolic acid as a household cleaner was also a key application segment accounting for over 20% of global demand in 2013. The other segment primarily comprises of use of glycolic acid in the manufacturing of PGA. However, the high cost of absorbable sutures acts as a major hindrance in emerging economies resulting in restricted demand for PGA, in turn, resulting in below average growth for the application segment.
North America and Europe were the largest consumers of glycolic acid owing to the predominant personal care product manufacturing in these regions. These regions together accounted for over 60% of the global consumption and are expected to remain market leaders over the forecast period. However, Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing market over the forecast period and is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 12% from 2013 to 2018. The growing awareness of benefits of glycolic acid as a personal care product ingredient coupled with improved lifestyle is expected t be a key driver for this market. Also, the growing aging population of countries such as China and Japan would result in increased demand for glycolic acid based anti-aging creams.
DuPont is the largest manufacturer and supplier of glycolic acid and produces the chemical using its patented proprietary process. The other key participants in the market include Parchem, CrossChem LP, Chemsolv Inc and Phibro Animal Health Corporation among others.
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