The global super absorbent polymer (SAP) market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2014 to 2019 to reach a value of US$8.56 bln. 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, as per ASDReports. 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. 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, USA is the top most consumer of SAP 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 SAP market with more than 75.2% share by value, the fastest growth rate till 2019 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. 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. 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.
SAP is widely used in hygiene products such as diapers and feminine hygiene products. In addition, SAP finds use in agriculture, entertainment, personal care and construction industries. Ageing global population and expanding population of infants across the world are major demand generators for SAP in hygiene products. Technology advances are also facilitating use of super-absorbent polymers in an expanding range of end-use applications. Specifically, biodegradable super-absorbent polymers are expected to have a profound impact on future demand prospects. Price fluctuations and availability of raw materials, as well as changing healthcare regulations represent challenges to market growth. As per strategyr.com, the United States represents the largest market for super-absorbent polymers worldwide. In developed countries, expanding elderly population is a major growth driver. Growth in these markets is higher, owing to higher levels of awareness over hygiene and greater willingness to spend on related products. Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America are forecast to emerge as rapidly growing markets in the coming years. The Middle East is poised to grow at the fastest compounded annual rate of 10.2% over the analysis period. Population growth, changing demographic structure, and rising income levels are all driving demand for SAP-based products, specifically diapers and feminine hygiene products in the region. Baby disposable diapers constitute the largest end-use segment in the global SAP market. Rising demand for disposable baby diapers in a convenience-driven world is a major contributor to the high demand for SAP. In the coming years, demand for super-absorbent polymers in baby diapers segment will be driven by expanding baby population in emerging nations, rising affluence and purchasing power of people, and the shift towards bio-based SAP. In particular, economic powerhouses such as China and India will register strong growth in demand for SAP-based baby diapers. Adult incontinence products represents another major end-use of super-absorbent polymers. With rising life expectancies particularly in developed economies, demand for adult incontinence products is witnessing strong gains. In particular, Japan is registering strong demand for SAP from adult diapers market, due to the country's ageing population.
As per Transparency Market Research, the global SAP market was valued at US$6.06 bln in 2013 and is anticipated to reach US$8.78 bln by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 5.5% between 2014 and 2020. In terms of volume, the global superabsorbent polymers market stood at 1,861.8 kilo tons in 2013. Increasing demand for baby diapers and adult diapers in emerging economies of Asia Pacific is likely to boost demand for superabsorbent polymers in the region over the next six years. Additionally, rising hygiene awareness among the ever-increasing population is estimated to boost demand for superabsorbent polymers in Asia Pacific. Superabsorbent polymers have a wide scope of applications not only in diaper and hygiene products industries but also in agriculture, medical and construction industries due to their high water absorbing and retaining property. Superabsorbent polymers are used in potting soil in the field of agriculture. They are used in the manufacture of medical dressings in the medical industry. Superabsorbent polymers are used in cable wires in the construction industry. However, volatility in prices of acrylic acid, a major raw material used in the manufacture of superabsorbent polymers, is projected to hamper market growth during the forecast period. Companies are now shifting towards bio-based materials due to environmental concerns. Superabsorbent polymers are now made form bio-based materials by using cellulose and starch, among others. This is likely to add to demand for bio-based superabsorbent polymers in the near future.
Demand for SAP is expected to be high in Asia Pacific due to growing end-use industries in countries such as China and India. Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the fastest growing market during the forecast period. Superabsorbent polymers are used on a large scale by the hygiene products industry in developed regions such as North America. North America is the largest market for superabsorbent polymers, followed by Europe. Europe accounted for more than 25% share of the global volume of superabsorbent polymers in 2013. Asia Pacific also accounted for approximately one fourth of the global superabsorbent polymers market in 2013. The SAP market in Asia Pacific is expected to be fastest growing, expanding at a CAGR of 5.4% between 2014 and 2020. Rest of the World, including the Middle East and Africa, is likely to be the second-fastest growing market for SAPs during the forecast period. All types of superabsorbent polymers are used in various applications such as sanitary napkins, training pants and diapers. Hence, demand for these polymers is high in the market. Polyacrylamide copolymer is estimated to be the fastest growing segment, due to its non-toxic nature and high water absorbing and retaining property. The others segment accounted for 12.6% of the global SAP market in 2013. Application segments include baby diapers, adult incontinence products, feminine hygiene products and others. Among these, baby diaper is primarily expected to boost demand for superabsorbent polymers in the market. The baby diaper industry accounted for more than 74% share of the global superabsorbent market in 2013. Baby diaper is also anticipated to be the fastest growing segment in the near future. The market for adult incontinence products was the second largest, which accounted for 224.3 kilo tons in 2013. The others segment includes applications that serve agriculture, medical and construction industries, among others. The superabsorbent polymers market is highly concentrated, with the top six players constituting more than 90% of the market share in 2013. Key manufacturers of superabsorbent polymers include Nippon Shokubai Co. Ltd, BASF, Bayer AG, Formosa Plastics Group, and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation.