According to data collated by Europur, the total production of flexible polyurethane foam in geographical Europe (including Russia and Turkey) reached nearly 1.58Mt in 2022. Of this amount, ~226kt consisted of moulded foam, a decline of 10% compared with 2021, primarily attributed to reduced automotive production. The reported production of flexible PU slabstock foam is ~1.35 million tonnes, representing an 8.5% decrease compared with 2021. It is however important to note that, despite this significant decrease, the volumes seen in 2022 were slightly higher than those recorded in 2018, before the pandemic.
2021 was a wild ride for the industry, characterised by strongly increasing raw material prices as well as supply issues. It nevertheless ended being a record year for foam production overall. For its part, 2022 can be characterised as a game with four distinct quarters. Q1 of 2022 started with growth, hinting at continuation of the industry’s relatively good performance during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, growth gradually slowed in Q2, and eventually the industry experienced periods of stagnation and even a sharp decline towards the end of the year. The industry as a whole grappled with rising costs across all sectors: from energy prices, labour costs and especially chemical raw materials. Despite a drop in overall demand, the automotive sector showed signs of slight recovery after struggling with previous supply chain issues.