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Specialty and Fine Chemicals

Specialty chemicals, performance chemicals, and fine chemicals are terms that are often used interchangeably. Specialty chemicals improve the performance of an end product or manufacturing process. End products include adhesives, cleaning materials, agricultural, food additives, lubricants, surfactants, textile auxiliaries, elastomers, and flavors. Specialty and fine chemicals find wide application across various end-use industries such as aerospace, automobiles, cosmetics, construction, textile, polymers, and food. Increasing industrialization and urbanization have led to revival of the economy and flourishing trade. Population explosion, especially in Asia Pacific, is fueling demand for consumer goods, food, and infrastructure. A variety of specialty chemicals are used for production of agrochemicals, construction chemicals, cosmetic products, food additives, textile, polymers, and plastics, among others. Moreover, emerging economies in Asia Pacific are characterized by rapid growth of end-use industries which is fueling growth of the specialty and fine chemicals market. The growth of specialty chemicals is largely driven by growth of agricultural, construction and automobiles industries. Moreover, development of environment friendly products such as TERGITOL L Series surfactants by The Dow Chemicals Company are favoring demand for specialty and fine chemicals.

Surge in Pharmaceuticals, Agrochemicals and Construction Activities Augmenting Market Growth

The pharmaceuticals industry is expected to be one of the major end users of specialty chemicals. The rapidly growing population, especially the geriatric population which is characterized by high susceptibility to various diseases, is fuelling growth of the global pharmaceuticals industry. This creates a highly conducive environment for the growth of the specialty and fine chemicals market.

Furthermore, positive growth of end-user industries such as agrochemicals, construction, and automobiles is facilitating the market growth. Growing preference among consumers across the globe for eco-friendly products is influencing manufacturers to develop bio-based chemicals. These are especially preferred in agrochemicals and fertilizers for increasing crop yield. The agricultural sector is growing continuously in order to keep up with the population growth. Specialty and fine chemicals find a range of applications in fertilizers and pest control products, which is augmenting growth of the market.

Construction chemicals are used in activities such as residential project, commercial complex and industrial applications. Construction chemicals minimize the quantity of cement and water used in construction activities. Asia Pacific is one of the lucrative markets for specialty chemicals due to presence of rapidly expanding economies and urbanization, which is fueling demand for advanced and modern infrastructure in the region. Moreover, several players operating in the construction industry are utilizing various construction chemicals such as concrete admixtures, adhesive & sealants, and flame retardants in order to expand their consumer base and presence in the global markets. Polymer is the basic raw material used by in the construction industry.

The automobile industry is one of the lucrative sectors for specialty chemicals. Polymers, paints, plastics, adhesives, fibers, and sealants are extensively used in the automobile industry. China, Japan, India, and the U.S. are major automotive hubs, which is likely to drive demand for specialty and fine chemicals from these markets. Asia Pacific is positioned to be a major revenue contributor in the global market due to presence of emerging economies such as India and China, and supportive government initiatives in the region. For instance, the Government of India, highlights the Auto Mission Plan (AMP) in its Make in India initiative to increase its passenger vehicle market by 2026 to 9.4 million units. India also witnessed US$ 15.79 billion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from 2000 to 2016 as per the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). This creates a highly conducive environment for growth of the global specialty and fine chemicals market.

Challenges – Strict Environmental Regulation

The synthetics based specialty and fine chemicals have a negative impact on the environment, which affects the ecosystem and life. Various environmental protection agencies have enforced numerous environmental regulations on use of chemicals in various industries. This may hinder growth of the specialty chemicals market during the forecast period. In October 2003, the European Union banned use of atrazine due to its ubiquitous and unpreventable water contamination. Stringent environmental regulations are forcing end-use industries to opt for bio-based chemicals, which is expected to restrict the growth of the specialty and fine chemical market due to major shift in technology involved. Moreover, the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection imposes penalties for high carbon emissions, which has led many chemicals manufacturing units in the country to shut down.

Specialty and Fine Chemicals – Regulatory Scenario:

  • 2016, the Russian government and National Parliament, State Duma, planned to enforce a new federal law primarily focused on regulating the in-house specialty chemicals. The new law will regulate around 800 specialty chemicals in Russia.
  • On June 22, 2016, Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical safety for the 21st Century Act strengthened and modernized the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This act requires the EPA to evaluate chemicals on its benefits, health risk, and exposure limit, among others.
  • January, 2015, The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection enforces strict penalties on manufacturing of chemicals which has led many specialty chemicals manufacturing facilities in the country to cease operations.

Key players in the market include Akzo Nobel N.V., BASF SE, Ashland Inc., Clariant AG, Evonik Industries, The Dow Chemical Company, Huntsman Corporation, DuPont, Arkema S.A., Bayer AG, Chevron Philips Chemical Company, Syngenta AG, Albemarle Corporation, Chaitra Corporation, Eastman Chemical Company, Solvay, and INEOS Group AG among others. Key players in the market are also focusing on strategic mergers and acquisitions to enhance their profitability. For instance, in March, 2017, The Dow Chemical Company and DuPont merged as part of a US$ 62 billion deal. The companies would subsequently break into three separate publicly traded companies that would focus on agriculture, material science, and specialty chemicals.

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