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Global demand for PU keeps growing.

According to Dow Polyurethanes, global demand for polyurethanes (PUR), both in traditional market segments and in new applications, continues to grow.

Despite the economic crisis in the Pacific, the compounded growth rate for polyurethanes is estimated at 4% per year, driven by the mature markets of the U.S. and Western Europe, and by the emerging economies of Eastern Europe and Latin America. In the U.S., the PUR industry traditionally grows on an average of 2% above the GDP.

Dow estimates that global PUR consumption in 1998 will be approximately 15 billion pounds (6.8 mmt including polyester polyols). Europe and North America remain the biggest markets for polyurethanes, each consuming approximately 35% of the global output. Latin America and the Pacific account for about 15% each.

"Latin America continues to be an area of increased growth," says David Fischer, global business manager, polyols, Dow Polyurethanes.

Mark Tan, global business manager, isocyanates, Dow Polyurethanes, adds, "The increasing purchasing power of many Latin American nations fuels demand for polyurethanes-based consumer goods, such as mattress bedding, furniture, appliances and automotive products."

Additionally, PUR products, such as foam, allow for very little non-generic substitution, which further reinforces their position in the market. As a result, flexible foams are the largest emerging force in the region.

Fischer notes, "Europe and North America also continue to be strong markets for flexible foam. In addition, a significant niche here belongs to rigid spray foams, with an annual growth rate of more than 10%, fueled by the building and construction industry.

The growth in polyol production is estimated at 5% globally. Polyether polyols constitute about 90% of industry use, and polyester polyols account for 10%. Global consumption of polyether polyols is approximately 6.5 billion pounds annually, with a market capacity ranging between 8-8.5 billion pounds. Paralleling the overall consumption of polyurethanes, the biggest outlets for polyether polyols exist in Europe and North America, with approximately 35% of global use each.

"In the Pacific, the economic crisis has lowered the consumption of polyols to under 20%," Fischer says. Latin America accounts for 10-15% of global polyols consumption. "We see Latin America as a strong growing market in the long term," Fischer comments.
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Title Annotation:polyurethane
Publication:Rubber World
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 1, 1998
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