North American prices for polypropylene and suspension PVC resins fell in January, after PP and polyethylene prices also declined to close out 2021. Regional prices for PET bottle resin, however, saw a surprisingly large price hike in January.
PP prices were down 3 cents in January after slipping a total of 28 cents in November and December. Market sources said the January drop came from lower producer profit margins because prices for polymer-grade propylene feedstock surprisingly were flat for the month.
PP prices were down a total of 40 cents in the last four months of 2021 after seeing huge price hikes since early 2020.
"We're seeing customers have more [PP] inventory than they've had in the past," said Gerard Selvaggio, a partner at New York City-area PP distributor Blue Clover LLC Polymer Solutions. "Plus they're less concerned about supply being there because of weather issues."
Market sources said that although capacity utilization for North American PP was only around 80 percent in November, record levels of PP imports are affecting prices and supplies. Some of this material was ordered earlier in 2021 but didn't arrive until later because of shipping delays.
Even with the late-year declines, PP prices are up a net of 39.5 cents since December 2020. North American PP supplies will get a boost in 2022 when Inter Pipeline Ltd.'s Heartland Petrochemical Complex brings more than 1 billion pounds of new capacity online in Strathcona County, Alberta.