Published November 2016
Monochloroacetic acid (MCA) is one of the most important halogenated derivatives of acetic acid. MCA is a reactive compound that can undergo various reactions to form a number of intermediates. Markets for MCA and derivatives include drilling fluids, plastics stabilizers, herbicides, surfactants, and pharmaceuticals.
Production of glycine is the major end use, globally, for MCA. The most significant production of glycine is now in China, where it is an intermediate in the production of glyphosate herbicide. Glyphosate is probably the largest-volume herbicide produced worlwide. However, there are three common synthetic routes used to manufacture glyphosate and it is only in China that the MCA route is dominant, accounting for 60% of the glyphosate produced in the country.
The MCA market will continue to be driven by the Chinese market. China currently accounts for more than 60% of global MCA consumption and average annual growth of 3.2% is expected, as relatively strong downstream demand for MCA will continue.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of MCA:
MCA use for glycine production makes up the largest market, with about 41% of total global MCA demand in 2016. Glycine is used to produce glyphosate, an herbicide used worldwide. China is the largest global producer and exporter of glyphosate and over 60% of its glyphosate capacity is glycine- and MCA-based. MCA consumption for glycine is expected to grow at 3.6% per year through the forecast period.
The second-largest market for MCA is for production of carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), which accounts for about 25% of total MCA consumption in 2016. MCA consumption is expected to grow at 2.9% annually in this market.
MCA consumption for downstream products 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D)/MCPA (herbicides) has increased in recent years. Total MCA demand for this use accounts for 10% of total MCA consumption. India will be the fastest-growing market for this end use.
In the United States, MCA consumption has experienced some recovery since the economic downturn, increasing steadily with the increased use of CMC in oil field applications since 2010. US consumption of MCA currently represents about 6% of the global market.
Western Europe accounts for about 12.5% of total global consumption of MCA, and 36% of total global MCA demand for CMC production. Western European MCA consumption is expected to grow at 1.2% annually. Nearly half of the MCA consumed in Western Europe is used for CMC production. Other MCA uses in this region include surfactants and herbicides (2,4-D and MPCA); consumption for these markets is expected to show sustained growth over the next five years.
The MCA market in India has experienced significant growth in recent years; both domestic capacity and exports have increased in the region. Demand is driven by use in agrochemicals (herbicides) and for the production of ibuprofen. Because lower-quality MCA can be used for ibuprofen manufacture, Indian ibuprofen is very competitive in the global market. MCA consumption is expected to grow at 5.6% annually in India from 2016 to 2021.
China is the largest consumer of MCA, accounting for about 61% of the global total in 2016, and the country continues to increase capacity and demand for the product. About 74% of the global capacity increase in the next five years will take place in China. Overall MCA consumption in China is expected to grow at 3.6% per year through the forecast period.
MCA demand in 2,4-D/MCPA herbicides will continue to be driven by markets in India, China, Western Europe, South America, and the United States. India will continue to be the largest and fastest-growing market in this sector.