Global demand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is expected to increase about 3.2% per year until 2021, according to market research organization Ceresana.
PVC is a key product of the chemical industry and, along with polypropylene and polyethylene, one of the most widely produced plastics. Approximately 39.3 million tonnes of PVC were consumed globally in 2013.
Asia-Pacific has 56% of the global market share, making it the largest sales market. The report says this market is also poised to see the strongest growth in the foreseeable future. North American and Western European markets are back on a growth path following losses in previous years.
The construction industry is the prime sales market for PVC products. In China, while there has been slowing, construction in China is still growing at higher rates than in most other countries.
In India, which Ceresana calls one of the world PVC market's "growth motors," demand is expected to increase 4.9% per year.
The United States suffered from weak domestic demand in recent years, but is seeing local demand for PVC products rise again, thanks to positive developments in the construction sector.
In Western Europe, the research firm says crisis-affected countries on the Mediterranean Sea seem to have touched bottom. It view markets in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom as comparatively stable. Overall Western European consumption of PVC is projected to rise again by approximately 1% in the coming years.
United States PVC producers have offset low demand at home by considerably increasing their export volume. Feedstock prices in the U.S. have come down notably, thanks to the shale gas boom; U.S. manufacturers have the opportunity to capitalize on low prices when competing internationally.
Europe's weak demand has led to a dynamic industry in recent years. Small and medium PVC producers have largely been acquired by competitors or have disappeared from the market. in some countries, such as Italy, PVC production has ceased altogether. Some large-scale manufacturers, such as Arkema, sold their PVC business. Producers Solvay and INEOS merged their divisions, and the joint venture Inovyn is scheduled to be operational at the end of 2014. The research firms sees this move, which establishes the largest European PVC manufacturer, to be another sign of increasing pressure for market concentration.
Capacity utilization in North America and Western Europe is very high, while Asia-Pacific still has notable excess capacity. China, the world's largest PVC producer, is able to increase output to satisfy increasing domestic demand. Chinese producers mainly rely on coal-based vinyl chloride to make PVC; other countries, like the United States, use only ethylene-based vinyl chloride.
Pipes and conduits are the most important PVC products. PVC is also used for plastic profiles and films/sheets. PVC is also used in cables and cable sheathing, floorings, automotive coatings, medical products such as infusion bags, and shoes.
The research firm expects development of individual application areas to remain balanced in the next eight years. It reports that Asia-Pacific countries, particularly India and China, as well as the Middle East, produce large amounts of PVC pipe. Turkey and Russia have high output share of profiles. In Germany, as well, most PVC output goes into producing profiles. The German market is being buoyed by a boom in refurbishing for energy efficiency.