Global polyurethane market demand was 14,950 kilo tons in 2012. The market is expected to witness significant growth owing to its widespread use in construction in the form of sealants, thermal insulators, and flooring materials. Increasing construction spending, particularly in emerging economies of BRICS nations, is expected to fuel the market growth. Rising safety standards in various en-use industries have also supported the growth of rigid foams owing to its insulation properties. Rigid foams are used as insulating materials for construction, industrial and automotive applications. The growth of automotive industry in Brazil, China and India is expected to fuel the global polyurethane market growth. PU is used for manufacturing automobile seating and other interior components such as headrests, armrests, dashboards and headliners in the automotive industry. In U.S., OSHA and ACGIH have not established regulatory policies with regards to exposure limits and carcinogenicity for the polymer and its derivatives. Such favorable regulatory scenario is expected to have a positive influence on the market growth. Volatile prices of key raw materials such as MDI and TDI are expected to remain a key challenge for market participants. To overcome this, industry has shifted its focus towards developing bio-based polyurethane. Major manufacturers have been synergizing their operations with biotechnological companies to develop bio-based PU market.
Global polyurethane market estimates and forecast, by product, 2012 - 2020, (Kilo Tons)
On the basis of products, the global polyurethane market is classified into rigid foam, flexible foam, coatings, adhesives & sealants, and elastomers. Flexible foam PU is widely used in upholstery, automotive seating, and bedding. Some niche applications of flexible foam include tennis racquet grips and textiles. Increasing disposable income and changing lifestyle in emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India have led to the growth of furniture industry. This, in turn, is expected to drive the polyurethane market growth. Rigid foams are also used for thermal insulation in construction and refrigeration. Increasing infrastructure spending in Brazil, China and India, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are expected to fuel the demand for rigid foam PU. Growing demand for electronic appliances such as refrigerators is another factor contributing to the market growth. Polyurethane varnishes are used for hardwood floors due to its abrasion resistance and durability. Increasing use of PU based paints to provide wood floor finishes is expected to fuel its demand in paints & coatings industry.
The global polyurethane market demand is primarily centered from construction and furniture industries which together for over half of total polyurethane demand. Rigid foams are widely used in construction as flooring materials, insulators and sealants due to its durability and thermal & water resistance. Increasing market penetration of PU as a substitute for metals and other plastics in adhesives, automotive parts, industrial parts, flooring material, seals, and gaskets has augmented the market growth over the last few years. The trend is anticipated to continue over the next six years. Increasing construction spending in emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India are expected to fuel polyurethane market demand over the next few years. Growing infrastructure industry in the Middle East is also likely to complement the market growth. Growing demand for flexible foams in furniture and interior applications such as seat cushions, carpet cushions, interior trims and mattress padding is also expected to drive market growth over the next six years. The shift in trend towards adoption of high performance, light weight materials in the global automotive industry in order to increase fuel efficiency is also expected to have a positive impact on the market growth over the next six years.
Asia Pacific continued its dominance and accounted for a significant chunk of the global polyurethane market in 2013. The Asia Pacific market is primarily driven by the growth of major end-use industries such as construction, electronics and automotive. China is the largest demand center in Asia Pacific and accounts for over half of total regional market volume. Various economic reforms in China over the last decade have helped the nation to emerge as the largest PU consuming country in the global market. The North America polyurethane market is characterized by growing application in automotive and electronics. Evolving production technologies coupled with growing importance for bio-based PU is expected to drive the market regional market. Europe is expected to exhibit considerable growth over the forecast period. The slump in market growth in the region may be attributed to the recent economic slowdown which has had an impact on the construction industry.
The global polyurethane market is highly competitive and dependent on technological advancements and product development. The global market is highly dynamic in nature with top multinational companies leading the list. Market participants strive to achieve application development in order to gain the competitive advantage over their competitors. The presence of large unorganized market in Asia Pacific poses threat to large MNCs in terms of product quality and price offered to customers. Some of the major companies operating in the global market include BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemical Company, Recticel S.A., Huntsman Corp., Woodbridge Foam Corp., British Vita Unlimited and Mitsui Chemical Inc.
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