Mexico City — Dow Chemical Co. focused on new grades of linear low density polyethylene resins at Plastimagen 2016.
New grades of Dowlex and Innate LLDPE “are two exciting new product lines,” Dow's Paloma Alonso said March 10 at Plastimagen in Mexico City. “We're continuing our journey of using new technology to solve problems in different markets.” Alonso serves as commercial vice president of Dow's packaging and specialty plastics business in Latin America.
The new Dowlex grade can be used in film and packaging as well as in health and hygiene applications. It offers better mechanics, optics and processability. Innate is a specialty LLDPE line that Dow launched in October. The material provides “a key value proposition,” Alonso said, balancing between toughness and stiffness.
Potential Innate applications include heavy-duty shipping sacks, pet food bags and stand-up pouches. Alonso said that depending on the application, Innate can make packages that are 10-15 percent thinner.
Midland, Mich.-based Dow has massive PE expansions under way in Freeport, Texas, and in the Middle East through its Sadara joint venture. Mexico could be a destination for some of that new PE, particularly for material made nearby in Texas.
“Clearly, Mexico stands out as one of key countries that we want to develop,” Alonso said. “Dow has been doing business in Mexico for 60 years — we know the market well.”
She added that the Mexican packaging industry “is blooming” and that PE demand there is growing at a rate of 6-8 percent per year. Many of Dow's Mexican customers also are buying new processing machinery, Alonso said.
In Mexico, resin distribution “typically is an important channel” for Dow, she explained. “It's a big part and we can nurture our strategic plans around it. There are a number of family companies [in distribution] and it's the best way to get material to our customers.”
Recent devaluation of the Mexican peso vs. the U.S. dollar “makes things more difficult” in Mexico, according to Alonso. “Our customers find themselves in very tricky places if they sell in pesos,” she said. “It might affect confidence, but not immediate demand.”
And even though recent low oil prices affect overall Mexican income — since the nation is an oil exporter — the Mexican economy “still is growing considerably per capita,” Alonso said. “It's not changing course.”