Europe continues to be the largest masterbatch market in the world, according to the latest research from AMI Consulting. Although the market has seen slower growth in recent years, Europe is still the largest market in volume terms but more importantly is also a key centre for innovation and global brand developments, making it an ideal place to develop new colours and property enhancing products. For many years the masterbatch industry in Europe tended to outperform the overall polymer industry as plastics processors recognised the technical and business advantages of using masterbatch over compound and other systems. However, in recent years the performance of the masterbatch industry has tended to mirror the trends in overall polymer demand resulting in much slower growth with demand averaging increases of less than 2%/year for the past three years. This change in trends has had a profound impact on companies and their strategies, with some players cutting back their activities and closing plants while others have sought wider or new markets to sustain their business. The more difficult economic environment has also revealed itself in variable financial performance with weaker players seeing margins eroded and their survival threatened, while others have used the opportunity of smaller order sizes, just in time delivery and heightened customer service demands to improve their margins.
The demand of color masterbatch is mainly driven by the need of end-use industries such as packaging, consumer goods, textiles, and automotive to differentiate their products in the market. These end-use industries rely heavily on color for their marketing and branding strategies. Color masterbatch offers these companies the option of using customized colors. It is the largest segment of the masterbatch market, in terms of volume and value. The demand of color masterbatch can be attributed to the growing need of end-use industries to make their products visually appealing for customers. The increase in movement of goods owing to globalization, liberalization, changing consumer lifestyles, and economic development has led to the increase in demand for better protection and handling of goods. The availability of wide variety of plastics and their adherence to regulatory standards make plastics the most extensively used material in packaging. Plastics also help provide better aesthetics to packaging as they offer ease in providing the required color, shape, size, utility, printing, weight, protection, and others. The growth of plastics in the packing industry is driving the demand of masterbatch. It is widely used in the plastics industry for coloring. The growing importance of color in marketing and branding activities is further fueling growth of the masterbatch market.