Booming export sales powered the U.S./Canadian PVC market to a sales gain of almost 10 percent in 2010, while markets for polypropylene and polystyrene posted modest gains.
PVC's 9.6 percent growth rate in the region was fed by an 85 percent gain in exports. Domestic PVC sales still hampered by a depressed building and construction market fell almost 10 percent on the year, according to full-year data from the American Chemistry Council in Washington.
Exports accounted for more than 34 percent of U.S./Canadian PVC sales in 2010 after accounting for just over 20 percent the previous year. Lower-priced ethylene feedstock a result of abundant supplies of natural gas in the region made U.S./Canadian PVC attractive in international markets. Even in a down year, construction-related uses accounted for almost 60 percent of domestic PVC sales.
In PP including Mexico sales for 2010 were up 2.5 percent in 2010. But exports had the opposite effect on PP that they did on PVC. PP exports for 2010 fell almost 42 percent, serving to dampen a 9.2 percent domestic growth rate, according to ACC. Tight supplies of propylene, also a result of using natural gas as a feedstock, drove prices of that material up, which also lifted regional PP prices and reduced chances for export.
Among major PP end uses, sales into injection molded caps and closures soared more than 13 percent. Transportation-related sales also zoomed up more than 40 percent as the auto market recovered, and sales into sheet also increased 19 percent in 2010.
But PP sales into injection molded housewares continued to struggle, falling almost 8 percent for the year, while sales into injection molded cups and containers also fell almost 16 percent.
U.S./Canadian PS sales eked out a 0.4 percent sales gain for 2010, as export growth of almost 19 percent helped to turn around a domestic sales loss of almost 1 percent. Among PS end uses, food packaging showed growth of almost 45 percent, according to ACC. The food-service market didn't fare as well, with PS sales falling 19 percent.
Exports' share of the North American PP market fell from about 13 percent in 2009 to less than 8 percent last year. In PS, the export share climbed from 6.5 percent to 7.7 percent in the same comparison.