North America consumed nearly 6 billion pounds of synthetic latex polymers in 2009 following a double-digit decline from 2008, according to latest report Synthetic Latex Polymers 2009-2010 Global Series: Business Analysis and Opportunities from worldwide consulting and research firm Kline & Company. The U.S. market accounted for 92% of the volume. The total number for synthetic latex polymers in the United States is estimated at 5.3 billion dry pounds in 2009.
All-acrylics and SBR account for the major share in North America, with over 75% of latex consumption. Paints and coatings, followed by paper and paperboard, are the leading applications in North America, constituting about 49% of the overall market. The recession has affected the housing and building industry, which has changed the demand for synthetic latex polymers in key end-use applications.
Dow, BASF, and Omnova are the leading players for synthetic latex polymers in North America, with a combined market share of about 54%. “Although only three companies account for just over half the volume share, there is still potential for manufacturers to grow in this market through targeting specific applications,” notes Anna Ibbotson, industry manager at Kline’s Chemicals & Materials practice. “For example, gloves or developing technology for more niche sub-segments of the major applications.”
The synthetic latex usage, especially in paints and coatings applications, is driven by the regulations and mandates such as low VOC or aldehyde content. Additionally, there is an increasing awareness among end users with regards to “green” and “sustainable products.” For instance, vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) has benefited from the trend due to good environmental credentials as phthalate plasticizers are not needed in VAE-based formulations. VAE has also a reduced need for co-solvents in the formulation of water-based emulsions for the paints, coatings, adhesives and sealants industries.
The acquisition trend has been ongoing since the early 2000s. Synthetic latex polymer manufacturers are seeking economies of scale as margins weaken due to key industries moving to Asia, or other emerging markets in a bid to reduce costs. Dow’s acquisition of Rohm and Haas in Europe boosted Dow’s sales capacity by about 30%, mostly in the paints/acrylics line. BASF doubled its styrene butadiene production with the acquisition of CIBA. Some of the most recent cases are Hexion Specialty Chemicals, Inc., and Shanxi Sanwei Group Co., Ltd. announcing the formation of a joint venture in April 2010. In January 2010, Arkema completed the acquisition of Dow’s acrylic monomers and acrylic latex polymers in North America.
With much of the synthetic latex polymer end-use markets tied directly to GDP, the market for synthetic latex polymers is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.4% through 2014. The markets for synthetic latex polymers are expected to recover and reach 2007 levels no earlier than 2011-12.
Synthetic Latex Polymers 2009-2010 Global Series: Business Analysis and Opportunities is a detailed, independent appraisal of the global market for synthetic latex polymers that includes current and forecast demand by major product and end-use industry, product grades and prices, applications, distribution channels, supplier sales, and technical and market trends. Manufacturing economics will also be analyzed for selected synthetic latex polymers. This edition will include extended coverage of the European market, and an online database containing historic data from 1978.