By European Plastics News staff
London -- Production of polyurethane chemicals and products are set to grow 2.9 percent to 5.8 million tonnes over the next four years in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, according to a new report from IAL Consultants.
In EMEA, the largest market is Western Europe, with production totalling 3.2 million tonnes, compared to 1.1 million tonnes for the Middle East and Africa and 750 kilotonnes in Eastern Europe.
However, the Western EUropean PU market is expected to experience slower growth (2.2 percent over the 2009-2014 period) compared to Eastern Europe (4.2 percent) and the Middle East and Africa (4.4 percent).
Rigid foams are likely to be one of the most dynamic areas for growth over the next four years, growing at nearly 4 percent across EMEA, says IAL. Most rigid foams find application in PU/PIR (polyisocyanurate) flexible-faced panels in Germany and central Europe. The market for insulating foams in heating and cooling pipes in eastern Europe and the Middle East will also grow, says the consultancy.
In terms of CASE (coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers) products, demand for coatings is expected to increase 1.6 percent per annum in western Europe and over 3percent in the rest of EMEA, driven by demand from the construction industry.
Polyurethane dispersions (PUDs) are gaining ground as a result of their strong performance and regulatory credentials, while adhesive applications continue to be driven by the regulatory need for low-VOC content.
One manufacturing area that is struggling is footwear, which may have a negative impact on demand for PU elastomers. Companies can combat this by focusing on TPUs, which are finding greater use within the mainstream footwear segment as a result of the development of softer grades, advancing their applications beyond sporting footwear, says IAL.
PU binders represent a comparatively small market, characterised by little or no regional production outside Western Europe. However, selected countries in eastern Europe are demonstrating demand growth at about 4percent pa in line with growing wood panel production.
In 2009, the biggest PU product segment was flexible foams, accounting for 37 percent of PU production across the EMEA region. The next most popular product type was rigid foam (28 percent), followed by coatings (13 percent), elastomers (12 percent), adhesives (5percent), binders (3 percent) and sealants (2 percent).