The COVID-19 pandemic created a surge in demand for both polypropylene and polyethylene resins, but both materials now are facing major challenges in finding supply for that demand.
Market analysts Joel Morales and Nick Vafiadis assessed the PP and PE markets March 10 during their firm's online World Petrochemical Conference.
Morales said that PP "has seen an increasing level of volatility, especially in North America."
Amid this volatility and high demand, PP supplies have been constrained by Winter Storm Uri, which knocked out more than half of regional production in February. Higher demand also has sent regional PP prices up 61 cents per pound since December, according to the Plastics News resin pricing chart.
"Polypropylene demand is high for everything in North America," Morales added. "Converters can't run full as we speak.
"The market is on fire as far as being oversold," he said. "We've never seen anything like this. COVID benefited polypropylene to the sell side. Longer-term, a trough could be coming, but it won't be as bad because of the new demand."