Growing Global Market

What is Driving India, the Fastest Growing Global Market for Industrial Surfactants?

Each of the three largest surfactant-consuming applications, household and industrial and institutional (HI&I) cleaning, personal care, and industrial, has a unique set of characteristics and consumption patterns. HI&I is the largest consumer of surfactants, but highly price sensitive. As a result, formulators look to use lower-priced surfactants more provided they meet the requirements. In the performance-driven personal care market, formulators are more concerned about the surfactants’ qualities than their price. An industrial application, in turn, is more complex and varies widely across various end-use segments.

In four key consuming regions, the United States, Europe, China, and India, the surfactants consumption in industrial applications accounts for nearly USD 8 billion. China and the United States are the two largest markets, followed by Europe and India. India is the smallest market, accounting for around 10% of the total surfactants consumption, according to the soon-to-be-published Industrial Surfactants: Emerging Market Analysis and Opportunities report. The country’s low consumption of industrial surfactants is a result of its high price sensitivity due to which industries either avoid the use of surfactants or use their minimum quantity or opt for low-priced products. For example, consumption of higher-priced surfactants, such as ester emulsifiers and EO/PO copolymer is limited, with each accounting for around 6-7% of nonionic surfactants consumption in India. Ester emulsifiers and EO/PO copolymers account for around 15% of nonionic surfactants consumption in other markets. APE/NPE is the most consumed nonionic surfactant in India while it is not the case in other markets, such as Europe, where APE/NPE has been banned.

Compared to the global market, where food is the largest consuming application, India has a limited market for processed foods, leading to a low consumption of surfactants in this industry. However, the market is slowly changing due to shifts in lifestyles and consumers’ willingness to try new foods.
At an overall level, in India, local suppliers dominate the market. However, from an individual application perspective, such as lubricants and metalworking fluids, global suppliers lead the market. This is a result of a captive consumption, when companies such as Lubrizol and BASF, supply not only surfactants, but also additive packages. All other applications are dominated by local suppliers, though global suppliers have a significant presence in paints and coatings and synthetic latex polymer (SLP) applications in India.

Looking ahead, India is expected to be the fastest growing market for industrial surfactants due to the country’s rapid economic growth. The government pays more attention on building infrastructure, leading to a growing demand from construction, paints and coatings, and SLP applications, the three fastest-growing applications in India. Surfactants consumption is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.6%, 8.8%, and 8% in the SLP, paints and coatings, and construction industries, respectively, until 2022.
A shift towards environmentally friendly and better-quality end-products is also expected to positively affect the market. For example, the paints and coatings industry is shifting from solvent-based paints to water-based paints as the latter are more environmentally friendly. Likewise, paints and coatings and adhesives and sealants move towards water-based alternatives. This, in turn, is expected to drive the demand for SLP in adhesives and sealants manufacturing in India, leading to growth in surfactants consumption.

In the construction industry, compliance with international standards and the growing number of high-rise buildings are expected to drive the use of admixtures in India. The government initiative to build “100 Smart Cities” will also drive the surfactants consumption in the construction industry as the raw material specifications for this project include the use of surfactants to provide strength and longevity to the structure.

Food, textile, and oilfield and mining are expected to form the next group of applications for growth in surfactants consumption in India. Growth in food will be driven by changes in lifestyle and as consumers look to try new foods. Consumption in textile will grow as various government initiatives start to show result leading to growth in textile production in India. Consumption will grow in the oilfield as Indian oil exploration companies, such as ONGC and Cairn, look to extend the life of oilfields through enhanced oil recovery.

These trends will have a direct bearing on the growth in consumption of different surfactants in India. For example, as the consumption of water-based paints grows, the consumption of ester emulsifiers will grow as they find most applications in water-based epoxy emulsions. As enhanced oil recovery grows in India, the consumption of TSP ethoxylates is expected to grow due to their robust performance. End users in various industries are also looking to produce APE/NPE-free products that will drive the demand for surfactants, such as fatty alcohol ethoxylates.

Learn more about India’s fast-growing industrial surfactants industry with Kline’s upcoming webinar: Trends Behind India’s Surfactants Market Growth. REGISTER NOW.

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