Research group Ceresana says linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) is expected to grow steadily through 2021.
Global revenues generated from LLDPE amounted to around $40 billion in 2013, states Ceresana. The market value is expected to grow by 3.9 percent per year until 2021.
The largest amount of LLDPE is used for the production of films, special flexible packaging films and bags and sacks, and in 2013, 81 percent of the total demand for LLDPE in 2013 was for films. Ceresana states that the largest amount of LLDPE is processed using film extrusion.
Although LLDPE markets in North America and Western Europe are the second and third largest globally, Ceresana predicts that these markets will grow at the slowest rates of hardly more than 1 percent per year.
The largest sales market for LLDPE is Asia Pacific, consuming 11.3 million metric tons in 2013. Ceresana estimates that this amount will increase by a third until 2021. It also notes that the Middle East and South America are projected to see high growth rates in the material.
The company emphasizes that the shale gas boom in the U.S. has had a big influence on the development of the global market for polethylenes, including LLDPE. The decline in the price for ethane has led to new crackers being built, resulting in an increase in polyethylene. Faced with increasing pricing pressure, several European producers have planned to close their crackers or to use imported ethane as feedstock. As such, Western Europe is the only region reducing its output of LLDPE.
China is the larger importer of LLDPE, but sales are stagnating, says Ceresana, as demand is increasingly satisfied by domestic producers. Meanwhile the largest exporter of LLDPE, exporting nearly 3 million metric tons, is Saudi Arabia.