Demand for polyurethane (PU) in North America stood at 3,340 kilo tons in 2013. It would grow to 4,415 kilo tons in 2020. Revenues would exceed USD 14 billion by 2020. This is attributed to growth of key end-use industries like automotive and construction, especially in Mexico.
Infrastructural expansions on account of urbanization and industrialization are leading to construction boom in Mexico. Also, the automotive industry is witnessing higher demand for lighter vehicles that improve fuel efficiency. PU is being incorporated in components like armrests, seating, headrests, instrument panels, etc. Rising automobile production in the U.S. is another favorable factor.
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Another important driver is the growing focus on reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. This is prompting more energy-efficient homes, commercial spaces, and industrial establishments. Favorable government initiatives for energy conservation in North America are also furthering growth.
Fluctuating prices of feedstock including benzene and formaldehyde is causing volatility in prices of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and methylene diphenyl diisocynate (MDI) – chief raw materials for making PU. This poses a major growth challenge. Market players are attempting to reduce dependence on petrochemical-based source materials by investing resources in research and development of bio-based PU.
The North America polyurethane (PU) market is classified on the basis of products, end-use industries, and geographies. Main product segments are rigid foam, coatings, flexible foam, elastomers, adhesives & sealants, and others. Rigid foam, with about 33% of the total volumes, was the leading product in 2013. It would also be the fastest-growing product segment (CAGR 4.4%) in forthcoming years.
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Key end-use industries include footwear, construction, automotive, furniture & interiors, electronics & appliances, packaging, and others. Construction sector generated maximum demand for PU in 2013. Electronics & appliance will grow at the fastest rate due to robust demand for electronics in Mexico. PU is used in electronic packaging and encapsulation applications.
U.S., Canada and Mexico constitute the three geographical segments. U.S. consumed 83% of the total market volumes in 2013. This is owed to high construction spending, low rates of interest, and growing emphasis on energy efficiency. Mexico will grow at the highest CAGR (5.6%) over the next six years.
The market is highly concentrated. Leading players are BASF SE, Bayer Material Science, Dow Chemical Company, and Huntsman Corporation. Other participants include British Vita Unlimited, Woodbridge Foam Corporation, and Foamex Innovations. Most major vendors are focused on environmentally-sustainable bio-based PU products.
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