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Specialty Chemicals Update Program

Surfactants

Published : Aug 11, 2013

This study is an overall assessment of the worldwide surfactants business. It provides an up-to-date view of the surfactants industry, products, markets, market participants and relevant issues.

The surfactants industry is generally considered complex because of factors such as a broad-ranging definition of the term surfactants; a large number of suppliers (more than 500 worldwide); numerous product chemistries (more than 3,500), intermediates and blends; a combination of specialty and commodity products and business; a wide range of applications and customer base; variable captive production and merchant markets; and interproducer business relationships and sales.

The most important surfactant-consuming area is Europe (31% of total consumption), followed by North America (United States and Canada, 28%), and China (17%). The highest consumption growth rates are expected for China and Africa. Growth rates in other regions vary from low (in the case of Japan) to above-average (in the case of Latin America and the Middle East). Poor growth in Japan and Western Europe is a reflection of stagnant economies, low population growth (–0.2% and 0.3% per year, respectively, during the forecast period), and to some extent the reduced surfactant concentration in formulations (softeners, detergents, and other washing and cleaning products) either for cost reasons or as a result of the increased efficiency of the washing/cleaning systems. Overall growth on a volume basis in the major world areas is expected to average only 2.6% annually during 2012–2017.

The following pie chart shows consumption of surfactants on a volume basis by major region:

surfactants

Worldwide, there are substantial differences in detergents from region to region. Western European detergents often have more surfactants, polymers and enzymes than those in Latin America and Asia. North America, Western Europe and Japan remain the traditional net exporters of surfactants. However, new production capacity being built in import-oriented and emerging regions such as the Middle East and China are changing the world's surfactant supply/demand patterns. India went from being a net importer to being a net exporter in mid-2000 and China's switch happened in 2012. Major surfactant producers continue to expand their operations to Southeast Asia, China, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe, further increasing their financial stake in the surfactant business. The Middle East is becoming more and more important as a raw material supplier (LAB, etc.) for surfactants.

The household detergents market is mature in North America, Western Europe and Japan, and rapid growth is limited to developing countries including China, India and Latin American countries. The growing popularity of liquid laundry detergents, as opposed to powders, has affected the consumption of surfactants, as the former generally use much higher surfactant levels per wash load. In China, the total production of liquid detergent increased by about 11% from 2009 to 2012, while production of powders increased by less than 3% and that of soaps declined during the same period. In Brazil, powdered detergent accounted for nearly all of the laundry detergent market through 2010. By 2012, liquid detergent accounted for at least 15% of the market. Although a much smaller market than Brazil, liquid detergents in Argentina now make up approximately 35% of the total.

"Green surfactants" are not expected to make a major change in the overall pattern of consumption, as products emphasizing consumer value seem to be more appealing than the benefits of product sustainability. The question remains as to how far green product features could affect customer behavior. In some segments of the market, the "green" label is promoting sales.

More investment and increased supply of oleochemicals are expected, especially in Asia. Most of the new investment in surfactants is taking place in the ASEAN region, China and South America. Asia is seen as the strategic growth area for most global surfactant manufacturers. Overall, surfactant manufacturers, even those in Asia, continue to see their margins eroded by increasing feedstock and energy costs as well as hurdles in building business competitiveness.

Table of Contents

Summary
Introduction
Overview of the surfactants industry
North America
Industry structure
Producing companies
Company profile—Stepan Company
Operating characteristics
Introduction
Research and development
Manufacturing
Marketing
Profitability and cost structure
Government regulations
Trends and opportunities
Critical factors for success
Latin America
Industry structure
Producing companies
Western Europe
Industry structure
Suppliers
Distributors
Associations and interest groups
Corporate activities
Producing companies
Company profiles
Operating characteristics
Research and development
Manufacturing
Marketing
Profitability and cost structure
Government regulations
Trends and opportunities
Critical factors for success
Central and Eastern Europe
Industry structure
Producing companies
Middle East
Industry structure
Producing companies
Africa
Industry structure
Producing companies
China
Industry structure
Producing companies
Company profiles
Sinopec
Tianjin Tianzhi Fine Chemical Co., Ltd.
Operating characteristics
Introduction
Research and development
Manufacturing
Sulfonation
Ethoxylation
Marketing
Profitability and cost structure
Government regulations
Trends and opportunities
Critical factors for success
Japan/Other Asia
Industry structure
Producing companies
Company profiles
Kao Corporation
Lion Corporation
Toho Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.
Operating characteristics
Introduction
Research and development
Manufacturing
Marketing
Profitability and cost structure
Government regulations
Trends and opportunities
Critical factors for success
Surfactant markets by product type
Products and functions
Amphoteric surfactants
Anionic surfactants
Cationic surfactants
Nonionic surfactants
North America
Consumption and markets
Overview
Amphoteric surfactants
Anionic surfactants
Cationic surfactants
Nonionic surfactants
Market participants
Amphoteric surfactants
Anionic surfactants
Cationic surfactants
Nonionic surfactants
Prices
Future trends and strategic issues
Latin America
Western Europe
Consumption and markets
Overview
Amphoteric surfactants
Anionic surfactants
Cationic surfactants
Nonionic surfactants
Market participants
Prices
Future trends and strategic issues
Central and Eastern Europe
Consumption, markets and trends
Market participants
Prices
Middle East
Consumption, markets and trends
Market participants
Prices
Africa
Consumption, markets and trends
Market participants
Prices
China
Consumption and markets
Overview
Amphoteric surfactants
Anionic surfactants
Cationic surfactants
Nonionic surfactants
Market participants
Amphoteric surfactants
Anionic surfactants
Cationic surfactants
Nonionic surfactants
Prices
Japan/Other Asia
Consumption and markets
Overview
Amphoteric surfactants
Anionic surfactants
Linear alkylbenzene sulfonates, alcohol ether sulfates, alcohol sulfates and alpha-olefin sulfonates
alpha-Sulfonated methyl esters
Naphthalene sulfonates
Phosphates
Sulfosuccinates
Other sulfonates and sulfates
Other
Cationic surfactants
Quaternary ammonium salts
Alkylamine salts
Nonionic surfactants
Alcohol ethoxylates
EO/PO copolymers
Alkylphenol ethoxylates
Nonethoxylated fatty acid esters
Ethoxylated fatty acid esters
Fatty alkanolamides
Other
Market participants
Amphoteric surfactants
Alkylamido betaines
Alkyldimethyl betaines
Imidazoline-derived amphoterics
Other
Anionic surfactants
Acyl sarcosinates
Alkylphenylether sulfates
Branched alkylbenzene sulfonates
Linear alkylbenzene sulfonates, alcohol sulfonates and alcohol ether sulfates
N-Acyl methyl taurates
Naphthalene sulfonate-formaldehyde condensates and naphthalene sulfonates
alpha-Olefin sulfonates
Polyoxyethylene alkyl ether phosphate
Sulfosuccinates
Other
Cationic surfactants
Fatty amine oxides
Fatty amines and their salts
Quaternary ammonium salts
Quaternized imidazolines
Nonionic surfactants
Alcohol ethoxylates
Alkylphenol ethoxylates
Fatty alkanolamides
Monoglycerol fatty acid esters
Polyethylene glycol fatty acid esters and polypropylene glycol fatty acid esters
Sorbitan fatty acid esters and ethoxylated sorbitan esters
Other
Prices
Amphoteric surfactants
Anionic surfactants
Cationic surfactants
Nonionic surfactants
Surfactant markets by market area
North America
Overview
Home and personal care
Household detergents
Personal care products
Introduction
Surfactant consumption
Market participants
Household fabric softeners
Introduction
Surfactants for fabric softeners
Consumption
Market participants
Industrial, institutional and commercial applications
I&I cleaners
Food
Agricultural products
Oil field, lubricant and related
Emulsion polymerization
Fiber and textile industry
Other
Construction
Mining
Paper
Metal cleaning and processing
Fire extinguishers
Western Europe
Overview
Home and personal care
Household detergents
Personal care products
Household fabric softeners
Industrial, institutional and commercial applications
Industrial and institutional (I&I) cleaners/washing
Construction
Emulsion polymerization
Agricultural products
Oil field and mining
Paper industry
Food
Fiber and textile industry
Other industrial applications
Fire extinguishing
Metalworking
Pharmaceutical
Photographic
China
Overview
Home and personal care
Household detergents
Personal care products
Fabric softeners
Industrial, institutional and commercial applications
Japan/Other Asia
Overview
Home and personal care
Household detergents
Personal care products
Household fabric softeners
Industrial, institutional and commercial applications
Cosmetics and pharmaceuticals
Fiber and textile industry
Plastics and rubber
Construction
Metals and mining
Pulp and paper
Commercial laundries
Food
Inks and coatings
Agricultural products
Other
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