As 2013 draws to a close, Urethanes Technology International magazine asked key players in the world of polyurethanes to share their thoughts on the industry during 2013 and tell us what they think we can expect in the coming year.
By Jane Denny
Steve Hulme, global business manager of polyurethane chemicals at Air Products & Chemicals, estimated a 3.5% growth in the global polyurethane industry for 2013.
Driven by Asia’s 6% growth, he noted that figure was below the region’s historical growth due to a cooling in China’s growth.
“Asia’s construction markets faired the best due to a surge in PU/PIR panel production in China to meet more stringent flammability standards. Automotive growth in Asia was around 4%.”
Appliances only grew at around 2% in Asia, he said, and flexible slabstock production was hit by a drop in China’s exports to the west and the country’s real estate dynamics, which resulted in a 3% growth rate.
“Similarly, shoe sole growth in Asia was just 6% with producers blaming the lack of credit available to Chinese SMEs and a weaker export market.
“EMEA growth was just over 1% but growth in the east continued at higher rates. EU construction markets were flat but PU grew at 2-3% as PU/PIR continued to gain share due to stringent insulation standards.
“Lower domestic demand yielded a weak automotive market with a…