Cleveland, Ohio – The US polyurethane foam market is forecast to climb at 5% annually to reach a value of $7.2bn (EUR 5.3bn) in 2017, according to a study by The Freedonia Group.
Polyurethane foam constitutes roughly half of the US foam plastics market, which Freedonia said will be worth $14.1bn in 2017 - a fifth bigger than its value of $11.6bn in 2002.
The figure represents a significant turnaround from the declines posted over the 2007-2012 period, said the report.
Boosts to the construction industry will create greater demand for rigid polyurethane, one of the most effective insulation materials available for roof and wall insulation, insulated windows and doors and air barrier sealants.
However, according to researchers, those construction market gains will be threatened by competition from fibreglass and foamed polystyrene.
The focus on new housing will boost smaller volume markets for rigid polyurethane foams which include household products – both for appliance insulation and furniture – packaging and motor vehicles. Meanwhile, opportunities will arise in bedding based on the expanding consumer awareness of memory foam mattresses as well as related products such as mattress toppers and pillows.
According to the study, growth in the carpet underlay segment will stem from construction industry growth, particularly in the residential sector as well as the increased use of higher-end frothed polyurethane products.
Increased motor vehicle output also bodes well for polyurethane seat cushioning although gains will be tempered by the use of lighter, thinner foam products and the popularity of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, which have lower foam requirements than larger vehicles, said Freedonia.
The report – which costs $5,100 – also predicts that packaging will remain the leading outlet for plastic foam. The packaging sector is less cyclical than others because of the significance of nondurable goods such as food however, the market is mature and will post steady but below average advances through the forecast period, the report said.
Gains will be constrained by ongoing environmental concerns over the disposal of packaging foams, which have resulted in the establishment of bans against foam foodservice containers in some areas, the report said.
Nevertheless, demand will continue to be supported by the cost and performance advantages of plastic foams over alternative materials and by opportunities for foam used to protect delicate items, said Freedonia.
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