Some suppliers of nylon and polyester resins have announced price increases for May.
DuPont Co. announced 6-10 percent hikes for its various grades of nylon 6 and nylon 6/6, as well as mineral-filled and specialty grades.
The effective date of the increases, which also applies to thermoplastic polyester and acetal engineering resins, is May 1, company officials said in an April 22 telephone interview.
Based on Plastics News' April 21 resin pricing chart, the nylon hike could result in increases of 7-14 cents per pound for large-volume purchasers.
Officials blamed increasing feedstock costs for the increase, which represents the Wilmington, Del.-based company's first nylon resin hike since 1995.
``Cyclohexane and natural gas both increased significantly in late '96 and early '97,'' said Michael Crickenberger, Americas business manager for Zytel Nylon resins. ``Overall, the market situation is extremely tight.''
The pending openings of an adipic acid production facility in Singapore and a Zytel production plant in Richmond, Va., will not offset the need for the price increase, according to J. Erik Fyrwald, Americas marketing director for DuPont Engineering Polymers.
Both the Singapore and Richmond facilities are expected to produce 100 million pounds of their respective materials.
``We need to reinvest in additional capacity and add to our technological base to continue to work with our customers in the way we have in the past,'' Fyrwald said.
Monsanto Chemical Co., a St. Louis-based nylon resin supplier, has no similar price increases planned, according to spokesman Carl Moskowitz. He added that officials in Monsanto's business unit were surprised by the DuPont announcement because of recent market stability.
In a separate move, Custom Resins Co., a small nylon 6 resin supplier based in Henderson, Ky., announced a 6 percent price hike for its products, effective May 16.
The company also cited rising feedstock prices — including those for caprolactum, which is made from cyclohexane — as the reason for its increase.
``We've seen three price increases on caprolactum in the last year and this last one was just too big for us to absorb,'' said Vincent DiMizio, the firm's sales and marketing manager.
The amount of the increase will vary by material, DiMizio said. Custom Resins produces 35 million pounds of nylon 6 annually.
In the PET arena, Shell Chemical Co. announced a 7 cent increase effective May 17. Kitty Borah, spokeswoman for the Houston-based firm, said the hike would allow the company to recover continuing raw material price increases and to improve the profitability of the business from its current loss-making position.
Wellman Inc. of Shrewsbury, N.J., backed off from its plan to announce April 24 a 7 cent-per-pound increase for bottle resin, effective June 1. Marketing manager Michael Dewsbury said Wellman needs more time to evaluate the proposed increase, which would boost the resin's cost to 54 cents per pound.
Dewsbury said poor profitability has caused some PET producers to run at less than capacity, resulting in a material shortage.
``If you go by the numbers, there should be plenty of PET,'' Dewsbury said. ``But capacity has been idled because of the low prices.''
Wellman was seeing strong PET demand from several areas, including the carbonated soft drink industry, according to Dewsbury, who said Wellman supports Shell's move.
``The entire industry needs this for long-term strength,'' Dewsbury said of the increase. ``Our companies are too big to be bleeding as bad as we are.''
ICI Americas Inc. of Wilmington, Del., also was ``considering a move,'' but wanted to study the market first, said Dennis Magyar, business manager for the company's Melinar Americas division.
Several industry sources said a similar PET bottle resin price increase was in the works for Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport, Tenn. Eastman officials could not be reached for comment.
The PET price increase follows a 4 cent industry increase effective in March.
PET resin prices fell 42 percent last year, from an average of 76 cents per pound to an average of 44 cents, because of increased capacity for key raw materials such as paraxylene.