Polystyrene market leader Nova Chemicals Ltd. is leading an attempt to raise prices by 4 cents per pound effective May 17.
A spokesman for Calgary, Alberta-based Nova said the increase is needed to offset rising feedstock costs and margin erosion. The cost of styrene monomer has risen 4 cents per pound recently and costs of other chemical ingredients also have risen, he said.
Chevron Chemical Co. LLC of Houston has made a similar announcement, a company official said. Industry sources said Fina Oil and Chemical Co. of Dallas also has announced an increase, although Fina officials declined to comment.
Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., had made no announcement as of April 16, while officials at BASF Corp. of Mount Olive, N.J., could not be reached for comment.
One industry source expects all other producers to follow Nova's lead but anticipates the timing of the announcement may lead some to seek a June 1 effective date for their increases.
PS makers already have pushed one 4 cent increase through this year, although margins and prices remain at or near historic lows.
January U.S. PS sales were down 3 percent over totals for January 1998, as PS makers cut production by that same amount, according to the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. in Washington.
Sales into food-service packaging — which consumes more than 20 percent of all PS production — climbed 5 percent in January, while sales to electrical/electronics, consumer products and reseller/compounder markets were each down at least 9 percent, according to SPI.