March 2018

American Chemistry Council reports U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes regain momentum

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes regained momentum, increasing 0.4 percent in February after only a 0.1 percent gain in January. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Of the twenty-eight specialty chemical segments we monitor, twenty-one expanded in February and seven experienced decline. During February, large market volume gains (1.0 percent and over) occurred in food additives, mining chemicals, oilfield chemicals, and textile specialties.

 

The overall specialty chemicals volume index was up 5.1 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis. The index stood at 113.1 percent of its average 2012 levels. This is equivalent to 7.79 billion pounds (3.54 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, there were gains among twenty-three market and functional specialty chemical segments. Compared to last year, volumes were down in only five segments.

 

Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of the unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They can be individual molecules or mixtures of molecules, known as formulations. The physical and chemical characteristics of the single molecule or mixtures along with the composition of the mixtures influence the performance end product. Individual market sectors that rely on such products include automobile, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food, among others.

 

Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals. They may only have one or two uses, while commodities may have multiple or different applications for each chemical. Commodity chemicals make up most of the production volume in the global marketplace, while specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity in commerce at any given time, and are relatively high value with greater market growth rates.

 

This data is the only timely source of market trends for twenty-eight market and functional specialty chemical segments. Chemistry directly touches over ninety-six percent of all manufactured goods, and trends in these specialty chemical segments provide a detailed view of trends in manufacturing. The data also sheds light on how various consumer end-use markets are performing compared to others in the marketplace.

 

U.S. Specialty Chemical Market Volume, Percentage Change

(Seasonally adjusted, 3-month moving average – Except YTD)

Note that there are revisions to several segments as well as revisions to the underlying end-use data.

Prior Current Year/ Year-to-
Month Month Year Date
Jan 18/ Feb 18/ Feb 18/ YTD 18/
Dec 17 Jan 18 Feb 17 YTD 17
U.S. Total 0.1 0.4 5.1 4.7
Adhesives & Sealants 0.1 0.4 4.3 4.0
Antioxidants -0.2 0.1 0.9 -0.2
Biocides 0.1 0.5 4.6 4.7
Catalysts 0.1 -0.2 1.8 1.6
Coatings 0.1 0.6 3.2 2.7
Construction Chemicals 0.3 0.7 1.7 1.3
Corrosion Inhibitors 0.4 0.8 7.9 8.0
Cosmetic Chemicals 0.1 0.5 9.0 10.6
Dyes 0.4 0.3 1.3 1.0
Electronic Chemicals 0.7 0.3 11.6 11.8
Flame Retardants 0.3 0.2 2.1 2.1
Flavors & Fragrances 0.2 0.8 7.7 8.4
Food Additives 0.2 1.0 4.5 4.2
Foundry Chemicals 0.5 0.6 2.5 2.8
I&I Cleaners 0.1 0.3 1.6 1.5
Lubricant Additives -0.6 -0.4 -0.9 -2.5
Mining Chemicals -1.3 1.2 -0.9 -3.7
Oilfield Chemicals 0.5 1.4 16.8 15.5
Paint Additives -0.2 0.4 3.1 2.4
Paper Additives 0.1 -0.4 -2.0 -2.8
Pigments -0.4 -0.1 -1.8 -2.3
Plastic Additives -0.4 -0.8 3.2 2.7
Plasticizers -0.6 -0.9 2.4 1.8
Plastic Compounding 0.0 -0.5 2.3 1.6
Printing Ink 0.4 0.5 1.2 1.1
Rubber Processing -1.2 0.2 -2.1 -4.8
Textile Specialties 0.6 1.4 0.2 0.9
Water Management Chemicals 0.3 0.5 4.8 5.3