Published December 2016
Acetic acid is a global product. China, the United States, the rest of Asia, and Western Europe account for the majority of the acetic acid market. These regions account for more than 90% of total world capacity (virgin acid). Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) is the largest end use for acetic acid in the four regions and constitutes 30% of global consumption. VAM is used in polymer manufacture for adhesives and coating.
In 2016, approximately 24% of global acetic acid was used for production of terephthalic acid (PTA). PTA is used primarily for the manufacture of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) solid-state (packaging) resins, fibers, and films. Acetic anhydride production accounts for 13% of total global acetic acid consumption and is used primarily for cellulose flake production. Production of acetic acid (ethyl and butyl acetate combined) accounts for 20% of total global acetic acid demand. Acetate esters are used mainly as solvents for inks, paints, and coatings.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of acetic acid:
Growth for acetic acid will continue to be driven by the Chinese market. New capacity is expected onstream in the next few years, while strong growth in Chinese consumption of about 5% per year during 2016-21 is expected, above the global average of 3-4% per year. Acetic acid use in China for VAM production will grow at an average rate of 3.5% annually in the next five years. There will also be good growth for acetic anhydride. Use in acetate esters will grow 7-8% annually as China continues to produce ethyl and butyl acetates, and acetic acid use in PTA will also grow about 5.5% per year as PTA capacity increases.
Acetic acid use in the United States is expected to grow only slowly, at 1-2% per year during the next five years. Acetic acid demand for VAM production will have slight growth as a result of expected rebounds in the housing and construction industries. Use for acetic anhydride is expected to remain fairly flat due to low domestic demand for cellulose acetates and fewer exports.
As in the United States, Western Europe is expected to have only slow growth in demand for acetic acid. Acetic acid consumption for VAM production will decline slightly in the next five years, owing to capacity closures. Growth for PTA use will be 2.7% per year depending on the cost competitiveness of PTA producers in the region.
Consumption in the Indian Subcontinent will grow at a rate of about 5% per year. All of its acetic acid uses, with the exception of use for VAM (no demand), will register good growth, particularly PTA and ethyl acetate.
Acetic acid demand will experience strong growth in other regions. The Middle East is expected to have high 6.5% annual growth as a result of the expansions of VAM and PTA capacity. In South America, about 4% annual growth for acetic acid consumption is expected as PTA and acetate esters use continues to grow.
Overall, an average annual growth rate of 3-4% is forecast for world acetic acid consumption during 2016-21. China will continue to drive growth in the market.