Custom Color and Additive Materials Continue to Be Profitable Areas
According to the latest research from research group AMI Consulting, the NAFTA market for thermoplastic concentrates continues to have strong prospects for growth and market penetration. At the same time there are new opportunities to profit from increased customer service needs among major brands. In recent years the market has seen a period of sustained growth not experienced since the 1990s with North America increasingly a key center for innovation and global brand developments, making it an ideal place to develop new colors and property enhancing products.
For many years the concentrate industry in NAFTA tended to outperform the overall polymer industry as plastics processors recognized the technical and business advantages of using concentrate over compound and other systems. Although in the future the delta between polymer growth and concentrate market advance will narrow the prospects are still very good in value added areas such as custom color and additive materials.
The opportunities in the marketplace will have a major impact on company strategy. The NAFTA market is seeing a considerable volume of new investment both from the traditional major players but also new market entrants. This will only emphasize the competitive nature of the market where there have been clear winners and losers in recent years with some players cutting back their activities and closing plants while others have sought wider or new markets to sustain their business.
The largest market for concentrate in NAFTA is still for additive types (especially mineral based products) which accounts for 47% of demand. The color segment is however the most important in value terms in a market which now exceeds USD 3 billion in sales.
NAFTA continues to have a strong export surplus in concentrate of well over 50 million lbs. This is further testament to the strength and size of the concentrate industry in NAFTA. The surplus is most significant in additive and color varieties, but all product types show net levels of exports. AMI concludes that the market in NAFTA will continue to grow albeit at levels much lower than has historically been the case because of much slower growth in the traditional volume markets for concentrate in polyethylene film and blow molding. Opportunities will arise in more speciality sectors such as grass yarn and high performance packaging and in the growing use of recycled materials that will require additive packages to modify performance.
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