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Published: June 2012
Plasticizers account for the majority of world phthalic anhydride consumption, followed by alkyd resins and unsaturated polyester resins. Other smaller-volume applications include polyester polyols, saccharin, pigments, dyes and flame retardants. Demand for most downstream markets for phthalic anhydride is greatly influenced by general economic conditions. As a result, demand for phthalic anhydride largely follows the patterns of the leading world economies. Consumption depends heavily on construction/remodeling activity (residential and nonresidential), automotive production and original equipment manufacture (OEM).
The following pie chart shows world consumption of phthalic anhydride:
Key findings in the phthalic anhydride market include the following:
- It is not at risk for large-scale substitution by competing products in most applications.
- The current (mid-2012) world market is amply supplied.
- Additional capacity is scheduled in India and China during 2012–2016.
- Overall economic performance will continue to be the best indicator of future demand.
- World consumption is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of almost 3.5% during 2011–2016 but will vary greatly by application and region.
- The market is shifting to high-growth and high-consuming markets, such as China and India.
- China will strengthen its position as the largest single producer and consumer; it will continue to be the top choice for additional investment/capacity.
Among the future concerns for the phthalic anhydride market are the following:
- Stricter environmental regulations affecting and/or limiting the use of phthalates.
- Strong interest in the use and development of nonphthalate plasticizers.
- Stricter environmental regulations affecting the use of alkyd resins.
- Increasing use of environmentally friendly coatings that do not consume phthalic anhydride–derived resins.
World demand for phthalic anhydride started to recover during 2010–2012, largely as a result of improved construction/remodeling activity and stronger OEM and automotive production. Growth in demand was highest in Asia and South America.