Table of Contents
World demand to rise 4% annually through 2018
Global demand for polyethylene resins -- high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) -- will rise 4.0 percent per year to 98.9 million metric tons in 2018. Gains will be in line with overall world economic growth, fueled by an acceleration in consumer spending and manufacturing activity. Polyethylene will continue to be the most widely used plastic resin in the world, benefiting from its versatility, low cost, easy processability, and recyclability. The development of ethylene feedstocks from new sources such as shale gas, coal, and biobased materials will also give polyethylene a price or sustainability advantage relative to other plastic resins. Additionally, continually improving polymerization catalyst technologies will enhance the performance, customization, and yield of polyethylene resins.
Asia/Pacific region to remain largest & fastest growing market
The Asia/Pacific region will continue to be the largest and fastest growing polyethylene market through 2018, fueled by strong growth in China, which alone accounted for nearly one-fourth of global demand in 2013. However, gains in Asia will rise at a slower pace than during the 2008-2013 period in most of the region (Japan is a notable exception). On the other hand, North America will exhibit a significant improvement in polyethylene demand, while the market in Western Europe will rebound from recent declines. HDPE is the largest of the three polyethylene resin types, accounting for just under half of total demand in 2013. Above-average growth is expected for HDPE through 2018, driven by the rising use of HDPE in construction products such as pipes and increasing popularity of blow-molded HDPE containers in emerging market countries. LLDPE will continue to gain market share over LDPE going forward, as LLDPE is the primary beneficiary of metallocene catalyst technology which improves resin performance. Packaging will remain the largest outlet for polyethylene, accounting for a majority of demand in 2018. The resin’s favorable sealing, stiffness, moisture barrier and clarity properties make it an indispensable material in the packaging industry. Film accounts for about half of worldwide polyethylene demand, and tends to compose a particularly large portion of the market in developing countries.
North America to see resurgence in production
From 2003 to 2013, global polyethylene production capacity shifted away from North America and Western Europe to the Africa/Mideast and Asia/Pacific regions, where energy and feedstock costs were lowest and demand was growing the fastest. Through 2018, however, the North American polyethylene industry will make a resurgence, benefiting from the availability of shale gas resources, which dramatically lower the cost of polyethylene production. Following a decade of decline, North America is expected to add more than nine million metric tons of polyethylene capacity through 2023. Capacity growth will continue to advance in the Asia/Pacific and Africa/Mideast regions as well, albeit at a reduced pace. Despite capacity expansions, the global average polyethylene operating rate is forecast to rise from 85 percent in 2013 to 88 percent in 2018, due in part to the closure of idled and less efficient plants in Europe and Japan.
This upcoming industry study, World Polyethylene, presents historical demand, production and operating rate data for 2003, 2008 and 2013, plus forecasts for 2018 and 2023 by product, market, process, world region, and for 30 countries. The study also considers key market environment factors, examines the industry structure, evaluates company market share and profiles industry players.
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