North American prices for polypropylene and PET bottle resin both declined in June, as demand continued to wobble.
Regional PP prices fell by an average of 4 cents per pound in June, matching a price drop seen for polymer-grade propylene (PGP) feedstock. PP prices had been down 8 cents in May and 11 cents in April — again matching PGP — after rising a total of 27 cents in the first three months of 2023.
"Spot and contract PP have both shown significant decreases in the last two months," said Esteban Sagel, principals with Chemical & Polymer Market Consultants in Houston. He added that some PP production issues and higher spot PGP activity likely prevented contract PP prices from going lower in June.
PP makers that aren't integrated into a PDH unit or a steam cracker "need to push the pricing of PP higher or pullback on PGP buying at these price levels," officials with New York-based PP supplier Blue Clover LLC said in a market update. They added that because of the current market situation, recent PP operating rates have been around 75 percent.
"While domestic demand for PP has improved from previous months … it seems to be more a function of buyers not wanting to miss out at these price points than a need for material because of strong consumer demand into big box retailers," Blue Clover added.
Regional PP prices now are down a net of 4 cents for 2023. North American PP supply increased in mid-2022 when Heartland Polymers started production at a billion-pound-capacity unit in Strathcona County, Alberta. PP maker Invista also plans to add 100 million pounds of specialty PP capacity through a debottlenecking in Longview, Texas, later this year.