North American prices for polypropylene resin slumped in May, while regional prices for polystyrene and PET bottle resin prices headed in the other direction.
PP prices were down an average of 7 cents per pound for the month, while selling prices for PS were up 5 cents and for PET were up 6 cents, according to market sources contacted by Plastics News.
The PP decrease was a combination of a 10-cent drop in price for polymer-grade propylene (PGP) monomer feedstock, lessened by PP makers' ability to add 3 cents to their margins. PP makers had been attempting to gain 6 cents in margin.
Prices for the material had been down 1 cent per pound in April after increasing a total of 16 cents in February and March. Although PP makers LyondellBasell Industries, Ineos Olefins & Polymers and TotalEnergies each have had production issues since March, demand for the material has leveled off somewhat.
"Barring weather events, this is the last hurrah," one resin distribution executive said of the PP market. "I doubt [PP makers] will get another increase in 2022. We get to see if the price down is a slow glide or just a quick fall-off."
North American PP supplies will be boosted this year when Inter Pipeline Ltd.'s Heartland Petrochemical Complex brings more than 1 billion pounds of new capacity online in Strathcona County, Alberta. ExxonMobil Chemical also will add almost 1 billion pounds of capacity for polypropylene resin in Baton Rouge, La., by the end of the year.
The 5-cent PS hike came as a bit of a surprise, since it was greater than the 2-cent increase seen in prices for benzene feedstock, which is used to make styrene monomer. PS prices had jumped a total of 18 cents from February through April.
Benzene prices for May closed at $4.11 per gallon, up less than one-half of 1 percent vs. April. Lower production from PS maker Americas Styrenics and an inability to source lower-priced imported PS also have put upward pressure on PS prices, a market source said.
Regional PET prices jumped up an average of 6 cents in May after surging a total of 29 cents in the first four months of the year. Strong seasonal demand played a role in the increase, as well as supply tightness and freight and logistics challenges.
PET demand typically increases in spring months, as beverage companies prepare for stronger demand brought on by warmer weather. Bottled water accounted for almost 25 percent of the U.S. beverage market last year, according to consulting firm Beverage Market Corp.