The FSK predicts that the mid to long-term growth of polyurethane will be around 3% he said, adding that worldwide trends - such as the changes in population demographic as people live longer lives - are important factors in this development.
Manderscheid described FSK as a unique organisation and added “It is very important for the successful development of the polyurethane industry and we can say to ourselves that we are all participating in a value added chain."
FSK managing director Hans Schloz followed Manderscheid with a more detailed breakdown of the European polyurethanes market. He confirmed Germany’s position as Europe’s biggest polyurethane producer – the country produced in excess of 800,000 tonnes of raw polyurethane over 2012.
The amount of polyurethane produced by the 27 EU member states in 2012 was around 3.4m tonnes with nearly a third (29%) going into the construction/insulation industry, closely followed by 26% into the bedding and furniture sector and 16% to the automotive industry, Schloz said.
The remaining 29% is split between refrigeration (7%), technology (8%), coatings and paints (8%), shoes (2%), sports/recreation and textiles – both sectors that accounted for 1% of Europe’s processed polyurethane output in 2012.
Schloz told the meeting of around 200 delegates that the European market for polyurethane had “slowed down” in 2012 and 2013 compared to other regions.
But he said competition in the region had “significantly picked up” as business leaders recognised the value of the material and the market to today’s world.
“The semi-finished and polyurethane components markets are much tougher,” he said.
However, he said the increase in construction expected as Europe claws its way out of recession would likely fuel growth and opportunity in the rigid foam sector. Similarly, changes in insulation regulations and funding for improvements in energy-efficiency will help the polyurethane industry going forward.
German polyurethane production
He said there is currently around 260,000 tonnes of processed polyurethanes within Germany’s construction industry. It is being used in a wide variety of applications such as polyurethane rigid foam insulation.
Across Europe, the amount of processed polyurethane stands at approximately 920,000 tonnes.
Schloz went on to quote further figures that confirmed the utility of polyurethane as the material of the times. “Its share has risen from between 5% and 6% of all plastics to 7% in Europe. In Germany, the share of polyurethane in the plastics industry is even a bit more.”
He said the German polyurethane market remained the strongest in Europe in 2012.
With its polyurethane production in 2012 (800,000 tonnes), the country produces more than a quarter (27%) of Europe’s total output but, he added that sales of polyurethanes produced by Germans had even dropped there.
One reason behind Germany’s slight decline in production, Schloz said, was Italy’s ability to supply German clients with processed polyurethane. Italy’s unique capacity to export high quantities of polyurethane into Germany had, said Schloz, held Germany’s polyurethane production at 7% of all plastics produced in Germany during 2012.
Italy’s 2012 production was close to 600,000 tonnes making it the second largest producer of polyurethanes in Europe.
Schloz also said the association had seen evidence of a migration of production sites to Eastern Europe, particularly automotive seat production.