Polymer Foams Market Expected to Consume 25.3 Million Tonnes by 2019

The global market for polymer foams totalled 19.1 million tonnes in 2013, representing approximately $86.9 billion, and growth is predicted to continue over the next five years according to a new market report by Smithers Pira.

The Future of Polymer Foams: Market Forecasts to 2019 contains the essential industry drivers, trends and innovations occurring in the industry as well as details of end-use sectors and forecasts.

More than half of the projected tonnage for 2019 consists of polyurethane foams, with rigid foams used in construction representing 60.8% of it. Other polyurethane types like flexible or sprayed share the remaining part of the polyurethane family.

Polystyrene foams represented 43% of the total volume, with Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) dominating this category and Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) and chips and beads completing the tonnage. Polyolefin, phenolic foams and other materials represent 6.2% of the overall market.

According to the report, the polymer foam market has seen steady growth in demand in the last years, increasing on average 4.4% annually between 2009 and 2014. Growth is expected to slightly accelerate in coming years, seeing average annual growth in volumes of 4.8% from 2014 until 2019.

Growth rates will also vary from material to material. For example, materials used in the polyurethane family will experience the faster growth in the forecasted period, thanks to their use in refurbishments as insulation materials. The use of polyisocyanurates will also see an acceleration in their market penetration. Moulded polyurethane foams will be the only type in the category to slightly decrease their growth. Similarly, in the polystyrene family of products, not all will experience the same rate of growth from 2014 until 2019. XPS will decelerate while EPS and PS chips and beds will grow faster than in the previous four years. The overall annual growth rate for the whole category will remain strong, short of 4%.

The major influences on the demand for construction materials remain the building codes and regulations, coupled with the support schemes for refurbishments in both Europe and North America. Wealth increase, investment in infrastructure and industrial development in other world regions will drive their markets for both polyurethane and polystyrene insulation materials.

According to the report, the automotive sector, recovering throughout the world after the crisis of 2008, will continue to take advantage of foams. If the seats in most cars are already made of polyurethane and their dominant position is not expected to be challenged by new materials, other foams are making an entrance in other parts of the car. Polyolefins, particularly polypropylene, are now being used. However, polyurethane, appreciated for its versatility and the R&D capabilities offered by raw material suppliers, are also increasing their presence, thanks to advances in moulded items and improvements in performance brought about by integral skin.

In geographic terms, while the European and North American Markets were hit by the recession, Asia Pacific experienced strong growth rates in all applications. Coupled with its large populations, these factors have made the Asia Pacific the largest consumption region of polymer foams by 2013, with 41.2% of all volume. As Asia Pacific will maintain its growth rates, the difference with other regions will increase in the following years, as new regulations in China regarding the use of insulation materials are expected, following years of government initiatives in this regard. Its automotive industry, fuelled by strong domestic demand, will also grow demand for foams. In the consumer sectors, i.e. packaging and furniture, developing regions across the world will continue to increase their demand for foams.

The Future of Polymer Foams: Market Forecasts to 2019 is available to purchase online and receive immediately available for £3950.

To find out more about the report and how your company can benefit from a global usage licence, please contact: Brian Santos (US) T: +1 207 781 9618 or Bill Allen (UK) T: +44 (0) 1372 80202.