US demand for extruded plastics projected to grow to 34 bln lbs in 2013

Demand for extruded plastics in the US is projected to grow 2.6% pa to 34 bln lbs in 2013, valued at US$23 bln (resin content only) as per Freedonia. Resins will account for 40% of the US$59 bln final product cost. Gains will be driven by extrusion's cost efficiency, processing ease and high volume uses, as well as machinery improvements. Threats to further growth include a slumping nonresidential building construction market and maturing applications in other areas such as film and sheet. Resin prices increased rapidly between 2003 and 2008 in response to escalating crude petroleum and natural gas costs. Going forward, moderating petroleum and natural gas prices will result in slow resin price increases. Extrusion will remain the highest volume plastic production process, accounting for over 56% of thermoplastics demand in 2013. Demand for extruded HDPE is forecast to grow 2.5% pa to 5.6 bln lbs in 2013, with good prospects expected in pipe and trash bag production. Slow growth is anticipated for extruded polystyrene (PS) due to competition from polyolefin and polyester resins. Nonetheless, polystyrene will remain a key player in disposable packaging applications such as cups, plates and other containers. Extruded foamed PS is used in building and other insulation applications, where it competes with expandable PS. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) together accounted for 60% of all extruded plastics demand in 2008. Extruded PVC demand is projected to grow 3% annually to 10.4 bln lbs in 2013, driven by its amenability to high volume construction applications such as pipe, siding, windows, molding and trim, and fencing and decking. Slower growth is expected for LDPE due to maturing film applications. Construction and packaging markets together accounted for 80% of all extruded plastics demand in 2008. Best opportunities are anticipated for siding and pipe. Growth will be stimulated by a rebounding residential building construction segment. Packaging markets for extruded plastics will be fueled by cost advantages over paper and metal, and continued opportunities in the production of blister packs and clamshells, as well as cups, bowls, plates and disposable packaging. Consumer markets will be spurred by rising demand for appliances and trash bags, and recreational and other products. Smaller extruded plastics markets include motor vehicles, industrial, electrical and electronics, and medical uses.
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