The global polymer foams market's revenue was estimated to be worth US$82.6 bln in 2012, which is expected to reach US$131.1 bln by 2018, growing at a CAGR of 7.7% from 2013 to 2018, as per Research and Markets. The APAC region dominated the global polymer foams market, comprising 36.5% of the total revenue in 2012. China and US shared 40% of the total polymer foam consumption in 2012. The Brazilian polymer foam is one of the fastest amongst major consuming countries. Polymer foams are used in various consumer products that provide durability, comfort, support and safety. These polymer foams are lightweight and less costly compared to other substitutes such as metallic foams or fiberglass. Their growing demand reflects their versatile nature against other competitive materials. Polymer foams are generally foamed plastics of polymer resins. Flexible polyurethane foam is one of the most versatile materials as it is used in furniture, bedding, carpet cushion, automotive, and packaging applications. The global polymer foams market is driven by its diverse range of applications. There is huge demand from the automotive sector which finds its usefulness in a myriad of applications such as gaskets, headliners, cushioning and cables. Environmental regulations from different industry sectors such as plastic, automotive, building and construction, furniture and bedding, packaging and other sectors facilitates the growth of foams. The growing polyolefin foams demand from the automotive and packaging markets is notable in key countries at global levels. New technology and innovations emerge commercially and would be very effective for the growth of foams in future. The APAC region foam market demands for higher consumption due to its larger population needs and their growing activities across constructions and other industries.
As per BCC Research forecasts an overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 2.5% for all foams produced from commercial plastics for the period 2010-2015. This market is valued at 7.5 bln lbs in 2010 and is expected to reach nearly 8.6 bln lbs in 2015. Polyolefins, both polyethylenes and polypropylene foams, have a growing market of about 443 mln lbs in 2010. A higher compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.8%, and a value of 509 mln lbs, is forecast for 2015, based on increasing demand for cross-linked polyethylene foams in several applications. Polyurethane (PUR) foams, both flexible foams used primarily for cushioning and rigid foams used mostly for thermal insulation, have the largest market, 3.9 mln lbs in 2010, with a predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6% to 4.4 mln lbs in 2015.
US demand for plastic foams is forecast to reach 8.6 bln lbs in 2017, mounting a healthy recovery from the declines posted during the recession impacted 2007-2012 period, as per RnRMarketResearch.com. The construction market is anticipated to enjoy particularly robust growth prospects, as renewed strength in construction activity generates significant opportunities for foam insulation products. Increased new housing activity, along with heightened consumer spending levels, will bode well for foams used in household products such as bedding, furniture and appliances. Gains in this market will also be aided by the expanding popularity of memory foam mattresses. In the motor vehicle market, advances will be promoted by rising vehicle output and efforts to enhance safety and comfort. Packaging will remain the leading outlet for plastic foams through 2017, accounting for over 30% of total volume. While this sector tends to be less cyclical than other industries due to the significance of non durable goods such as food, the market is mature and will post steady but below average advances through the forecast period. Gains will be constrained by ongoing environmental concerns regarding the disposal of packaging foams, which have resulted in the establishment of bans against foam food service containers in certain localities. Nevertheless, demand will continue to be supported by the cost and performance advantages of plastic foams over alternative materials, and by opportunities for foam used to protect delicate items. Moreover, efforts to promote sustainability will generate more interest in biodegradable packaging foams. Polyurethane represents the leading resin in the plastic foams market. Flexible polyurethane foam will remain the dominant product type, outpacing its rigid counterpart through 2017 based on especially rapid growth in the bedding and carpet underlay markets, where it is valued for its cushioning properties. Strong gains for rigid polyurethane foam will be propelled by a healthy rebound in construction activity and by changes in building codes and construction practices that call for structures to use energy more efficiently. Rigid polyurethane is one of the best materials available for roof and wall insulation, insulated windows and doors and air barrier sealants. However, polyurethane foam insulation will continue to face competition from fiberglass and polystyrene foam. Polystyrene accounts for over one-third of demand for plastic foam and will maintain a sizable share of the market through the forecast period based on its excellent protective and insulative capabilities, moisture resistance, and low cost. However, advances in the large packaging sector will be restricted by ongoing solid waste disposal concerns about the use of disposable foam products and rising competition from paperbased materials, which are viewed as more eco-friendly. Through 2017, expanded polystyrene foam is projected to outpace its extruded counterpart, stemming mainly from its use in insulation, molded foam protective packaging, and insulated shipping containers