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Diapers to drive growth in global Superabsorbent Polymer (SAP) Market till 2018

Diapers to drive growth in global Superabsorbent Polymer (SAP) Market till 2018

The global super absorbent polymer market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2014 to 2019 to reach a value of US$8.56 bln, as per Markets and Markets. The SAP used for baby diapers segment is growing at a CAGR of 5.2% and constitutes a significant part of the overall super absorbent polymer market. The market is expected to be pushed by bio-based SAP and increasing income levels, and rapidly growing baby diaper market in the emerging regions. Due to increasing population and income levels in Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific, especially in India and China, the emerging geographies are expected to register maximum growth. SAP crystals, sometimes called super absorbent polymer balls, water absorbing crystals or slush powder, have numerous practical applications. These typically are cross-linked acrylic homo-polymers (usually sodium neutralized). Diapers and hygiene product manufacturers use super absorbent polymers as the solidification medium in the products. In agriculture they are used to increase the water absorption and water retention in soils located in regions subject to drought. Hospitals utilize them to solidify and dispose-off bio-hazardous waste in suction canisters. Oil companies utilize them to solidify the liquid waste byproducts of oil and gas drilling, and mining. Acrylic Acid is the main consumed raw material for the super absorbent polymer products. The demand for super absorbent polymer is increasing and will continue to increase as the disposable income of the individuals are increasing and population pyramids in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East, Africa. The fastest growth in the super absorbent polymers market is expected to come from SAP used in construction, packaging, wire and cable, oil and gas, fire fighting which will continue to expand in the coming years. Expansions and new investments for SAP plants in the recent past have indicated that the industry is on its way to expand globally and global SAP suppliers are strengthening their presence in emerging markets. All these factors, along with the growing diaper industry, will continue to drive the demand for SAP. However, the SAP industry will have to overcome challenges, such as the availability and price volatility of raw materials and changing health regulations, in order to meet the increasing demand from the growing diaper industry. North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific dominated the super absorbent polymer market in 2013 and accounted for over 75% of the market. The developed regions dominate the SAP market due their mature markets which consist of hygiene conscious and high-spending population. Country wise, U.S. is the top most consumer of super absorbent polymer product globally and is also its largest market for growing at a CAGR much lower than the global average till 2019. Japan is the largest SAP consumer for adult diapers in the world and also the second largest super absorbent polymers market within Asia-Pacific. On the other hand, Middle East, Africa is expected to witness the fastest-double digit growth rate by 2019. The market in this region is experiencing increase in baby diaper penetration rate, high disposable incomes and population pyramids. While baby diapers take topmost positions in the super absorbent polymer market with more than 75.2% share by value. The fastest growth rate till 2019 in the super absorbent polymers market is expected to come from SAP used in construction, packaging, wire and cable, oil and gas, fire fighting which will continue to expand in the coming years. Sodium polyacrylate dominates the SAP market by type in terms of volume and value.

As per Research and Markets, Superabsorbent Polymer (SAP), a granular material that has the capability to absorb large amount of water or aqueous solution, is witnessing higher rate of growth because of its growing usage in the personal disposable products like baby diapers, female hygiene and adult incontinence products. Also, because of its capability to absorb water or aqueous solution up to 50 times of its own weight, SAP is also finding wide variety of usage in agriculture, construction, entertainment and personal care industry as well. Growing urbanization, rising consumer expenditure and disposable income in developing countries along with the growing population of both adults and infants in developed and emerging countries have played a crucial role in driving and expanding the supply and demand of superabsorbent polymer across the world. In addition, technological advancement has facilitated the usage of superabsorbent polymer to many other end-market applications. Diaper market is the largest end market application for superabsorbent polymer and hence driving the demand of the polymer in the recent years. Every year almost 80% of the SAP production is dedicated to the manufacturing of diapers worldwide. Besides baby diapers which are witnessing sustained growth, demand for adult diapers is increasing at a higher rate because of the growing number of cases of adult incontinence. On a global basis, current market scale and growth rates suggest that diapers will remain a bigger business for superabsorbent polymer manufacturers.

The table from nonwovens-industry.com shows the leading producers of SAP in the world. The table shows production capacity of the world’s largest producers of superabsorbent polymers in the world. The total production of seven companies on the list totals nearly 2.2 mln tons as of August 2013. In spite of the increased capacity of 14.2% in April 2012, demand for SAP outpaces supply globally. This shortage can be partially attributed to an accident at Nippon Shokubai’s Himeji workshop in 2012 that subsequently led to the shutdown of 320,000 tons in September 2012. Meanwhile, the world’s second largest SAP producer BASF makes 470,000 tpa of SAP with sites in the U.S., Europe and Thailand. Recent investments in the U.S. and Europe allowed BASF to outrank Evonik, the former number two player. Evonik makes 426,000 tons of SAP per year at plants in the U.S. and Europe. Capacity expansion among the industry’s other leading players includes expansions in Japan and Europe by Sumitomo Seika and expansions by LG Chemical in Korea. Competition among SAP manufacturers.

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