One of the highlights of the EuroPUR annual meeting is the market review of the European flexible polyurethane foam market. This year Angela Austin took us through the numbers as Simon Robinson reports.
Sales of the European flexible foam industry grew by 5.2% in 2015, Angela Austin of Labyrinth a Research & Markets told delegates to the 2016 EuroPUR annual meeting in Brussels in June.
This year, Austin broadened the scope of her report with “data on the Russian Federation, Turkey and some Eastern European members. Data is collected from EuroPUR members and others connected with the industry,” she told delegates.
“With regards to TDI globally the relationship between supply and demand was much looser in 2015 than previous years and in some cases prices fell by as much as 40% during 2015. According to industry reports five of the seven producers in China stopped production for several months in 2015 to try to stabilise the situation, without much success.
Supply and demand
“Despite this situation, the Chinese Polyurethane Industry Association has set a target of 1.5 MT/year capacity by 2020,” Austin warned. She added that this will increase production “substantially.”
“In the Americas, demand has been stable and there’s not much new capacity expected in the next few years and in Europe we saw TDI capacity going in last year,” Austin said.
|European flexible foam industry 2014 and 2015 (EU 28+ NO+CH)|
“MDI manufacturers have fared a little better and markets have been closer in supply and demand. But by the end of 2016, markets could get tougher again as the Dow Chemical/Saudi Aramco joint venture, Sadara comes on stream with diisocyanates and polyols aimed at the Middle East and African markets and also potentially Europe.”
She added: “In terms of polyols global demand has been more balanced. Production has been managed, but the price has remained depressed.”
Global supply continues to grow with larger plants being constructed, Dow has set up a 200 kT/year plant in Thailand which is running quite well; Shell chemicals has also made a decision to rebuild the Moerdjik plant. Shell also announced a 600 kT/year expansion in polyether and speciality polyols in China. In India “there is going to be a bit more capacity from Manali,” Austin told delegates. “That’s going to supply the Indian market and local markets such as Turkey and the Middle East,” she added.
Slabstock gets bigger
Total polyether slabstock production for the EU, Norway and Switzerland was just over 885 kT in 2015, polyester slabstock production was around 72 kT. This was produced by a total of 143 plants, with 126 in the EU 28. One French producer stopped last year, and a Mediterranean producer stopped producing, “but I also found one in Scandinavia,” said Austin.
“In comparison with last year, you can see the polyether slabstock production has increased by 5.6% and in polyester slabstock the increase was about 1.1%. Car production has increased by 9% worldwide and 45% in Italy in the past year but footwear and clothing applications have declined. Overall we think polyester slabstock production is about the same as it was last year.”