The global surfactants market demand was 15,641.7 kilotons in 2014. It is projected to expand at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2015 to 2022. Rising bio-based product demand particularly in Europe and North America is expected to fuel the overall market over the forecast period. Consumer awareness along with government support towards bio-based product manufacturing and consumption is estimated to foster the industry growth.
Surfactants are mostly used to decrease the surface tension between any two liquids or a solid and a liquid in the form of emulsifiers, detergents, wetting agents, dispersants, or foaming agents. They find application in several end-use industries such as petroleum, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and cosmetics. Continuous development in the sectors is anticipated to benefit the industry over the next seven years.
Low raw material prices along with lesser production costs are projected to help penetration over the forecast period. Surfactants provide stability and viscosity to foam and emulsion. This is further predicted to drive the demand for the product from several end-user industries over the next seven years.
Price volatility owing to rising environmental concerns regarding surfactant toxicity and degradability along with fluctuating crude oil prices is predicted to hinder the market. Technological constraints resulting in problems related to commercial production of bio-surfactants is also anticipated to hinder the growth over the forecast period.
In addition, increasing awareness among consumers towards using eco-friendly products in matured economies including Europe and the U.S. is anticipated to drive the demand for biosurfactants. Also, various regulations imposed by many economies like the European Union have propelled industries to invest in bio-based technologies that are environmentally friendly.
Surfactants are extensively used as wetting agents, foaming agents, emulsifiers, dispersants, and detergents among others. End-use industries that account for large-scale utilization of surfactants include household cleaning, industrial cleaning, institutional cleaning, personal care, and fabric softeners. Institutional and textile application segments are likely to witness steady growth over the forecast period. Expanding textile sector in the U.S., owing to investments in clothing, is likely to emerge as a key catalyst for the growth of surfactants over the forecast period.
Surfactants are active agents that help reduce surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid and improve the performance efficiency of the final product. Raw material feedstock for surfactants majorly comprises petrochemical derivatives such as linear alkyl benzene, linear alpha-olefins, and ethylene oxide. SABIC, Reliance Industries Limited, and Shell among others are some of the common suppliers of crude oil derivatives.
The players in the surfactants market are constantly concerned about the environment to meet regulatory compliances, reduce the overall carbon footprint, and gain consumer confidence. Consequently, the focus on sustainable production has increased. The global market has witnessed several consolidations such as mergers & acquisitions and joint ventures due to industrial challenges such as feedstock pricing fluctuations and manufacturing price pressure.
The market growth of biobased surfactants depends upon various factors such as the availability of raw materials, technological advancements, production cost, and production routes. The commercialization of newly developed biobased surfactants is one of the important parameters that is projected to influence the overall market. As biobased surfactants are in their nascent stage of development, manufacturers are focused on R&D activities to enter and gain a competitive edge in the market.
Personal care & cosmetics is a prominent application segment of the surfactants market, as surfactants are broadly used in the formulation of hair care, skin care, creams, gels, ointments, and other products. The rapidly growing personal care industry and an increase in consumer spending on quality products are expected to boost surfactant market growth. In addition, the retail sector in developing countries such as Brazil, India, and China is becoming well-organized, which is anticipated to further trigger the growth of the personal care & cosmetics industry, in turn, promoting the consumption of surfactants.
The growth can be attributed to the continuous evolvement in personal care products and innovations to comply with the shifting consumer preferences. In the past, shampoos and soaps were observed to be the key applications of surfactants in the personal care & cosmetics market. However, the inclusion of surfactants in several products including lotions and cold creams is gaining momentum, thus, driving the market. Increasing focus on “green chemistry” by key end-use manufacturers to meet the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products is anticipated to positively influence the biosurfactants market.
Biosurfactants including Sorbitan esters, rhamnolipids, and mannosylerythritol are widely used in personal care & cosmetic product formulations such as hair care products, creams, and moisturizers. Increasing disposable income and improving lifestyles in emerging economies have been driving the personal care industry. This trend is expected to drive the product demand in the personal care & cosmetics sector over the forecast period. The environment-friendly biosurfactants coupled with nontoxic characteristic is anticipated to benefit the product demand in the aforementioned applications.
Surfactants are recently being used in shale gas production owing to their ability to considerably reduce the surface tension between shale gas and water as the reduction in surface tension initiates the formation of shale intensely. Surface tension can be lowered further by adding nonionic surfactants to anionic surfactants or by rising the temperature and pressure. The reduction in surface tension enhances gas desorption and water recovery. By adding surfactants, the contact angle between shale rocks and water is reduced and therefore, surfactants are used in shale gas production.
Shale gas is a form of natural gas recovered from the shale deposits or rocks lying underneath the earth’s surface by using several techniques such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Shale gas is predominantly used in various applications such as transportation and power generation among others. Globally, shale gas has become a significant source of natural gas and is produced primarily in the U.S. The encounter of shale gas basins in Australia and China has generated prominent opportunities for market growth.
Most of the technologies related to surfactant manufacturing from plant oils are either under development or in a nascent stage. To use such technologies for commercial and large-scale production, a significant amount of investment is required from manufacturers to scale up and upgrade the downstream processing to make an impact in the market
The regulations related to surfactants are stringent and required to be followed domestically and internationally. The product is used in-home care and personal care application are in direct consumer contact, thus, the rules and regulations related to consumer safety are stringent. Compliance with these rules along with the production of user-friendly chemicals is a significant industry challenge faced by global manufacturers.
Anionic surfactant emerged as the largest product segment accounting for more than 45%of the overall share in 2014. Mounting demand for linear alkylbenzene in cleaners and detergents due to advantageous characteristics of the product is estimated to boost the growth.
Nonionic surfactants are projected to observe lower growth rates owing to large availability of substitutes of nonionic surfactants with enhanced properties. Amphoteric is predicted to be the fastest developing product segment over the forecast period.
In terms of value, amphoteric surfactants are predicted to grow at an estimated CAGR of 5.4% from 2015 to 2022. The segment is projected to observe high demand owing to their several properties which include conditioning, foaming & foam stabilization, biodegradability, detergency, etc.
On the basis of applications, the market is categorized as elastomers & plastics, industrial & institutional cleaners, personal care, home care, pharmaceuticals, food, soaps, or detergents crop protection and textiles. Home care and the personal segment are anticipated to witness high growth as compared to other segments.
Home care dominated the application market in 2014 and accounted for more than 40% of the overall product demand. Increasing demand from the home care segment can be accredited to increasing surfactant usage in household cleaners, soaps, and detergents. Home care is anticipated to lose its share to some of the other segments over the forecast period.
Personal care is expected to witness the highest growth over the forecast period. In terms of value, the segment is expected to grow at an estimated CAGR of 5.7% from 2015 to 2022. The food processing segment is estimated to be the fastest-growing following personal care segment over the forecast period.
The textiles application segment is projected to witness less demand over the next seven years. This is mainly owing to growing substitution of other surfactants by other products in the industry. However, increasing use of surfactants in several end-use applications such as personal care, food, and soaps and detergents is anticipated to drive the market.
Asia Pacific is one of the largest regional segments on the account of the rising consumer awareness for bio-based products coupled with the growing demand for home care and personal care products. APAC market was valued at USD 12,040.12 million in 2018 and is also predicted to be the fastest-growing regional market over the forecast period.
Asia Pacific surfactants market is majorly driven by the growing population in countries such as China and India and the subsequent expansion of various end-use industries including agriculture, textile, and personal care, wherein surfactants find large-scale applications. Along with the presence of global giants in the detergent market such as Procter & Gamble, various countries in the region are characterized by the presence of several domestic players that are focusing on strengthening their presence. For instance, the presence of prominent players such as Rohit Surfactants Private Limited, Nirma, and Hindustan Unilever Limited in the Indian detergent market signifies the rising consumption of surfactants in the region.
Key countries in the Asia Pacific region including China, India, and Japan have shown significant growth in the consumption of surfactants owing to the growing disposable income of consumers. Low manufacturing and labor and manufacturing cost across the above-mentioned countries is anticipated to boost economic growth and thus likely to boost the surfactants market over the forecast period.
China is the front-runner in terms of economic development and population as compared to the other countries in the region. Consequently, the country witnesses a major consumption of household commodities such as soaps, detergents, and cleaners. The manufacturing sector in the country has witnessed a significant hike coupled with technological inventions. The aforementioned factors are collectively expected to propel the demand for surfactants in household and institutional applications.
The governments of developing countries in the Asia Pacific such as India are promoting foreign investments to establish the countries as manufacturing hubs for a majority of the chemicals worldwide. India is characterized by the presence of less stringent regulations about the use of surfactants. Thus, key manufacturers of surfactants are identifying growth opportunities in the country owing to the easy availability of raw materials at a low cost. In addition, these players are adopting strategic initiatives such as mergers & acquisitions and agreements to significantly increase their investments in the country as it accounts for the high consumption of surfactants.
The growth of the textile, agriculture, and personal care industries in the developed economy of Japan is expected to emerge as the major factor driving the surfactants market in Japan over the forecast period. The personal care sector is a prominent end-user of surfactants, which are used as dispersants, foaming agents, solubilizing agents, emulsifiers, conditioners, and cleansers in the formulation of various personal care products. Furthermore, rapid industrialization in Japan is expected to emerge as a major factor propelling the demand for biosurfactants in industrial cleaners.
Europe and North America are anticipated to witness stagnant market growth owing to the slow growth of end-use industries across regions. In Europe and North America, there was an economic downfall which in turn, significantly impacted the surfactants market. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the toxicity and ionic nature of synthetic surfactants used in household detergents and personal care product formulations. This, in turn, is propelling the demand for biosurfactants in the aforementioned applications. Multiple regulations restricting the use of synthetic surfactants have been established by governmental bodies in developed countries across the region owing to various associated environmental concerns. This is expected to further strengthen the demand for biosurfactants in North America over the forecast period.
The U.S. surfactant market is driven by the increasing demand for laundry detergents from household and institutional sectors. In the U.S., surfactants mainly find application in liquid detergents, which are being increasingly employed for household laundry purposes. Liquid detergents majorly contain alcohol ethoxylates and ether sulfate surfactants, which are highly effective in removing grease and oily & fatty soil.
The global surfactant market is quite concentrated with top four participants accounting for more than 65% of the total market share in 2014. BASF-Cognis is the leading player holding more than 30% of the overall share. BASF is followed by Kao Corporation and Akzo Nobel. Other key players include Rhodia, Clariant, Stepan Company, Croda International, Evonik Industries, Huntsman Corporation, etc.
The global surfactant market is driven by the presence of several established industry players. Most of the industry participants are adapting themselves to be present across the supply chain with a high level of business interest. Factors such as high bargaining power of consumers, low threat of new entrants, low bargaining power of suppliers, low threat from its substitutes, and heavy investment cost have made the industry highly competitive. Hence, industry rivalry is extremely high.
New product development is the key strategy implemented by most of the industry participants. Additionally, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, coupled with effective marketing strategies are expected to be some of the major strategies used by industry players. Media platforms are anticipated to be used on a large scale for product differentiation and promotion.
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Surfactants are the key ingredients used in the formulation of soaps, and detergents. The recent COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent health measures recommended by the World Health Organization and adopted across all nations have triggered the demand for soaps and liquid hand wash. This trend shall have a considerable impact on the surfactant demand pattern. The updated report will account for COVID-19 as a key market contributor.