Demand for natural polymers in USA in 2012 was worth US$4.95 bln and is expected to reach US$7.12 bln by 2018, at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2012 to 2018, as per Transparency Market Research. Increasing applications in non durable goods and shipments, food and beverages, and pharmaceutical shipments are expected to drive natural polymers demand in the U.S. over the next five years. Medical applications dominated the U.S. natural polymers market with 25.6% share of total revenue generated in 2012. Pharmaceutical applications are playing a major role in this growth amid accelerating demand for excipients, binder and filler in directly compressed drugs, wound dressings and the treatment of arthritic joints, among other uses.
Cellulose ether was the most widely consumed natural polymer in the U.S., and accounted for around 36.5% of the total volume consumed in 2012. Increasing demand for pharmaceutical applications is expected to trigger the demand for starch and fermentation products. Cellulose ethers are widely used in markets including medical, oilfields, food and beverages, etc. Cellulose is derived from the photosynthesis process of cotton, wood pulp, and other plants. Key cellulose ethers include Methyl Cellulose (MC), Hydroxyethyl Cellulose (HEC), Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC), and Microcrystalline Cellulose (MCC). MC has a vast range of uses, among them as thickener and emulsifier in food and cosmetic products and a performance additive in construction materials. HEC is widely used in cosmetics, detergents and other household products. CMC also finds wide application in food production as a thickener and emulsion stabilizer. It is also employed as a thickening agent in pharmaceuticals, while the oil industry uses it as an ingredient of drilling mud. MCC is another term for refined wood pulp and the pharmaceutical industry uses it widely as an excipient. MCC can also be found in a wide range of processed foods, where it may be used as an anti-caking agent, stabilizer, texture modifier or suspending agent. The demand for starch and fermentation products is expected to reach 479.3 kilotons in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 12% from 2012 to 2018. Adhesives and sealants, packaging, toiletries, leather tanning, paint and inks, construction, and textiles are some of the important end user industries among others. Packaging is one of the important application markets of natural polymers. Various natural polymers such as starch-blend and PLA (poly lactic acid) are used to form film, loose-fill, thermoform and other packaging products. They are also widely used to produce skin and hair care products, adhesives, textures, cement based plasters, etc. Expansion of the U.S. natural polymer market can be attributed primarily to rising demand for non-petroleum based and environmentally friendly products.