Amounting to nearly USD 33 billion, the global synthetic latex polymers market is shaped by diverse regional characteristics, according to Kline’s global program Synthetic Latex Polymers: Global Business Analysis and Opportunities. North America, China, and Europe are the largest markets, together accounting for around 70% of consumption globally. India and Southeast Asia are also significantly large markets, characterized by high growth.
Globally, paints and coatings is the largest application of synthetic latex polymers. However, regional dynamics play a pivotal role in determining the nature of application markets. While most markets have paints and coatings as the largest consumer of latex polymers, China and Southeast Asia are exceptions. China’s adhesives industry is the largest consumer as the country houses the world’s largest production of biaxially-oriented polypropylene tapes for packaging that use large volumes of latex polymers in pressure-sensitive adhesives. Southeast Asia, on the other hand, is the global production hub for nitrile gloves, and this makes the glove dipping industry the largest consumer of synthetic latex polymers in the region.
Around 60% of the global consumption is occupied by three polymer chemistries: styrene acrylic, pure acrylic, and carboxylate-styrene butadiene. The choice and consumption of polymer types is highly dependent the regional market characteristics, such as price-sensitivity, preference for premium quality, and role of regulations, among other factors. In the North American market, which has the highest focus on quality and regulatory compliances, pure acrylic has the largest consumption; while in India, a fast-growing price-sensitive market, styrene acrylic is the largest used chemistry.
The global supplier landscape of synthetic latex polymers is highly competitive with an enormous mix of multinational suppliers, as well as regional and local suppliers. The top three global suppliers, BASF, Dow Chemical, and Synthomer, together hold roughly one-fourth of global sales. The market is relatively less fragmented in the developed regions than in the developing regions. While the European market is mostly held by a handful of well-established global suppliers, the Chinese market is highly fragmented among several large and small manufacturers. The global supplier scenario also varies from one polymer chemistry to another. For example, the market of styrene acrylics is highly fragmented, but the market of high solids-styrene butadiene is consolidated.
With a global compound annual growth rate of 3.8% through 2021, the growth outlook of synthetic latex polymers is a summation of diverse application trends in different regions. India promises the highest growth with its policies designed towards high infrastructure development, while the slowest growth is expected from the mature market of Europe.
Globally, the fastest growing application will be glove dipping, mainly driven by the demand for synthetic medical gloves. As a result, AB-nitrile will be the fastest growing polymer. This growth is mainly coming from the Southeast Asia region, which is the dominant exporter of nitrile gloves to the world.
With the robust growth in the construction sector, especially of the developing markets, construction application makes up the second fastest growing end-use for synthetic latex polymers globally. Redispersible powders (RDPs) are especially attracting growth in this sector because of their ease of handling and high efficiency in imparting water resistance and flexural strength to the cement, which makes RDPs the second fastest growing polymer chemistry.
The paper industry will be the slowest contributor to global growth as it continues to suffer in the developed markets due to shift towards digital media, and lower-priced paper imports from Asia. While paper applications are expected to decline in North America and Europe, they will continue to be strong in India and China.
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Written by Shilpi Mehrotra, Project Manager Chemicals & Materials Practice