Industrial Surfactants with Favorable Environmental Profiles

Alkyl Polyglucosides and Other Industrial Surfactants are Moving Forward with Favorable Environmental Profiles

One-third of the global surfactants market is used in a variety of industrial applications, such as food, paints and coatings, crop protection, and oil and gas. Europe and the United States are among the largest consumers of industrial surfactants globally, together accounting for USD 4 billion+ in market value, according to Kline’s just-published reports on the United States and Europe from the Industrial Surfactants: Multi-regional Market Analysis and Opportunities series. Both markets show overall positive growth results, but their growth potential is highly dependent on the end-use application and surfactant considered. The industry is also affected by tightening regulations on the product composition and environmental impact. Responding to the growing demand for high quality products that would meet the industry’s compliance regulations, suppliers in these two developed markets shift towards more innovative, safe, and green products.

Considered as hazardous substances for surface water, alkyl phenol ethoxylates/nonyl phenol ethoxylates (APE/NPE) were banned in the European Union for most of its applications. Furthermore, some European countries, such as Germany, have restricted the use of polyethoxylated tallow amine as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) proclaimed the chemical to be a “probable human carcinogen.” Due to the positive environmental profile and a reasonable market price, fatty alcohol ethoxylates are replacing APE/NPE in major applications, such as crop protection, construction, and textiles.

Environmental concerns, such as an increased focus on fuel economy and emissions reduction, are driving growth of dispersants in lubricants, which ensures a stable growth for alkyl aryl sulphonates, as they are mainly consumed by this end-use segment.

The overall market of surfactants for industrial applications in Europe and the United States is quite fragmented; however, due to the market’s maturity and large number of active players, rivalry is high and increasing because of niche suppliers entering the market with specialized products and regional producers, such as Leuna Tenside, Bozzetto, and Erca, which have a strong presence in one or a few regions. Global multinational companies, such as AkzoNobel, BASF, Clariant, Huntsman, and Stepan, together account for close to half of the total European market value. In the United States, the three leading suppliers are BASF, Huntsman, and Stepan.

High performance products with favorable environmental profiles will pose the fastest growth over the next five years. Alkyl polyglucosides are expected to be the fastest growing surfactant, followed by phosphate esters, and mono- and diglycerides. Food and crop protection applications are expected to be the fastest growing end-use segments for industrial surfactants in the United States and Europe.

Learn more about the performance requirements from end-use applications, intensifying rivalry, and changing surfactants industry regulations with Kline’s free webinar: Industrial Surfactants: Exploring the European and U.S. Markets.

From this presentation, you will learn:

  • Market size of surfactants by region and application
  • Current market trends and key industry drivers
  • Overview of the competitive landscape
  • Sales forecasts and growth projections through 2020


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