Surfactants lower the surface tension of a liquid, so that usually non-mixable liquids can be mixed. The market research institute Ceresana Research expects the global surfactant market to generate revenues of more than US$41 billion in 2018 – translating to an average annual growth of 4.5%. With a roughly 37% share of global consumption, Asia-Pacific is the largest surfactant outlet, followed by North America and Western Europe.
Growth Markets Asia-Pacific and South America
Over the next eight years, shares in demand of the individual world regions will shift significantly. The analysts from Ceresana forecast countries in Asia-Pacific to increase their shares in the global surfactant market – mainly at the expense of Western Europe and North America. In addition, South America will see strong growth, above all because of massive increases in production in Brazil.
Trend to Non-Ionic Surfactants
Global demand for anionic surfactants was approximately 6.5 million tonnes in 2010. Anionic and non-ionic surfactants combined account for roughly 85% of global demand for surfactants. "We expect non-ionic surfactants to register the strongest growth between 2010 and 2018," says Oliver Kutsch, CEO of Ceresana. Despite this global trend to non-ionic surfactants, anionics will remain the most widely used surfactants, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Asian countries, with the exception of Japan and South Korea.
Surfactants in Cleaners & Detergents
Most important buyers worldwide include manufacturers of household cleaners and detergents. Their demand for surfactants is projected to rise by 2.6% per year until 2018. However, mainly emerging and developing countries will boost this trend: Rising prosperity in these countries will result in an increasing per-capita consumption of household cleaners & detergents. Moreover, the trend from soaps towards synthetic detergents is increasing as well. "This trend, which can especially be seen in Asia-Pacific, contrasts the stagnating or declining consumption in North America and Western Europe," adds Oliver Kutsch. The world's most comprehensive market report from Ceresana analyzes how surfactant consumption will develop in individual markets.
Other Application Areas
Surfactant use is expected to see the biggest gain in the body care and cosmetic markets. Ceresana forecasts consumption in Asia-Pacific to grow by 4.3% and consumption in South America to rise by 4.8% annually. Industrial cleaners accounted for just less than 9% of global consumption in 2010. Body care products and cosmetics had a 9.5% share. Other industrial applications, such as agrochemicals, photo chemicals, oil field chemicals, construction materials, foodstuffs, adhesives, lubricants as well as metalworking, mining, and pulp & paper, accounted for approximately 11% of worldwide consumption.