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Published: August 2012
The principal chemical classes of antioxidants are amines, hindered phenols, phosphites, thioesters and various natural or "natural-based" compounds. These chemicals are used primarily to inhibit the oxidative degradation of unsaturated organic materials such as elastomers, plastics, food or animal feed, and petroleum-based fuels. Therefore, the rubber-processing industry, the plastics industry, the food and feed industry, and the fuel and lubricants industry are major consumers of antioxidants.
The North American, Western European and Asia Pacific regions are estimated to account for over 90% of global antioxidant consumption.
The following pie chart shows consumption of antioxidants in the major regions:
In 2011, the following applications accounted for the consumption of antioxidants in the major regions (volume basis), although substantial differences in end-use distribution are apparent among the regions:
- Rubber (and latex) (53%)
- Plastics (36%)
- Food and feed (8%)
- Petroleum fuels (3%)
Globalization and consolidation are transforming the polymer additives industry. Antioxidant producers have been facing a significant shift of their customer base to the Asia Pacific region, particularly to China. Typical customers are large polymer producers and tire manufacturers who require a broad product line and new performance solutions capable of serving growing derivatives production in Asia and the Middle East. Also, China and India have large domestic markets that are attractive to domestic producers. So much manufacturing activity has shifted to Asia over the past two decades that substantial upstream raw material demand has been transferred from North America and Western Europe to Asia. As a result, Asia is becoming a major player in the export of low-cost downstream products, which have a strong demand-pull on polymers.
U.S. and Western European antioxidant producers are participating in the significant manufacturing shift to Asia, which is quickly emerging as a base of operations for a number of major customers. Asia now accounts for an estimated 50–60% of global antioxidant production, mostly in China, but also in India, Taiwan, and the Republic of Korea, as well as Japan. A sizable amount of excess antioxidant production in the region is exported to Western Europe and North America.
The five-year consumption growth rate for antioxidants through 2016 is projected to be between 2% and 4% per year. India (5–7% per year) is expected to grow the fastest, followed by China (4–6% per year). The other major countries/regions are expected to experience lower growth over the period.