CLEVELAND (March 24, 2010)—Carbon black demand is expected to rise an average of 4.3 percent annually over the next four years, aided by a strengthened global rubber market, according to a new study by a Cleveland industry research firm.
The study—called “World Carbon Black” and conducted and released by Freedonia Group Inc.—said demand within the carbon black market will grow to 11.6 million tons by 2013, up from 9.4 million tons in 2008.
Gains will be somewhat exaggerated because growth will rise from a relatively weak base in 2008, when many global regions experienced the start of recession, said Anand Mehta, a Freedonia analyst and author of the study.
The Asia-Pacific region will post the strongest gains in demand through 2013, bolstered by markets in China and India, as both will see rapid expansion in their motor vehicle and tire industries driven by robust economic growth, the study said. The market will increase by 5.6 percent per year between 2008 and 2013 to 6.6 million metric tons, projections show.
China and India among all countries had the largest increases in additional carbon black capacity between 2003 and 2008, and that trend will continue into 2013.
However, demand in developed parts of the world—primarily North America and Western Europe, but also including countries such as Japan, South Korea and Australia—will continue to post below-average growth through 2013, Mehta said.
Demand in North America is expected to increase 1.7 percent annually between 2008 and 2013 to 1.8 million metric tons and Western Europe 2 percent per year to more than 1.3 million metric tons. While demand for both regions will lag behind the global pace, it will be up from the declines posted from 2003 to 2008.
Carbon black growth in Japan between 2008 and 2013 will be relatively flat, with motor vehicle production slated to slide after a strong year for that market in 2008, Mehta said.
Demand in the remainder of the world—including Latin America (but not Mexico), Eastern Europe and Africa/Mideast—is projected to increase by about 4.2 percent annually to nearly 1.9 million metric tons, he said.
The vast majority of carbon black is used as a reinforcement material for vulcanized rubber goods, with more than 60 percent for motor vehicle tires alone, Freedonia said. Carbon black demand from the tire sector is projected to increase 3.7 percent annually through 2013, while the non-tire rubber carbon black market is expected to expand 4.8 percent per year, the study said.
The market for special blacks—for applications such as plastics, inks, paints and coatings, and conductive fillers—will expand by 5.9 percent per year to 1.2 million metric tons by 2013, Mehta said. While special blacks comprise less than 10 percent of the overall carbon black market by tonnage, they carry considerably higher per-kilogram prices than commodity blacks.
Carbon black manufacturers will continue to spend a disproportionate amount of their research and development budgets on the special blacks sector, Mehta said. This is because the market is more lucrative than that for more common-use carbon blacks, provides a hedge against fluctuation in tire and rubber demand, and is increasing in importance on a tonnage basis, he said.
“There isn't much more technological progress that can occur in the near future in the mature tire and non-tire segments,” he said. “Special blacks markets are less mature and entail greater research activity and require the production of more specialized products.”
“World Carbon Black” is available from Freedonia Group for $5,700. For information, contact Corinne Gangloff at 440-646-0484, by e-mail at [email protected] or at the company Web site at www.freedoniagroup.com.