Iodine Market: Key Facts & Statistics

24 Aug 2018 • by Natalie Aster
Iodine Market: Key Facts & Statistics

LONDON – The situation in the iodine market is indirectly dependent on the GDP of different countries around the world owing to its widespread use in a host of applications both consumer and industrial. Presently, the iodine market is in the blooming phase due to the escalating demand from a host of end-uses.

Last year, the value of the world’s iodine market increased by around 5% YoY and exceeded USD 832 million. It is poised to see further growth in the coming years at a CAGR of appr. 4-5%. By the year 2022, the global iodine market value is slated to go beyond USD 1.04 billion.

Some of the key factors expected to encourage an upturn in the iodine market comprise a remarkable increase in the iodine mining in the Latin American and APAC regions, the rising prevalence of iodine deficiency in adults (especially in the APAC region), the elevated incidence of thyroid disorders in aging population (especially in emerging countries), the mounting demand from the end-use sectors (especially LED/LCD polarizing films and X-ray contrast media), and also the enhancing government support across different countries to increase the usage of iodine in animal feed additives as well as human nutrition. Ongoing advancements in iodine extraction technologies (especially from caliche ores and seaweed) are also expected to give a boost to the world’s iodine market growth.

However, certain factors may hinder the iodine market growth to some extent, for instance, concerns regarding the toxicity associated with iodine consumption, and fluctuating prices resulting from the demand-supply gap.

RESERVES

First, iodine was isolated from seaweed (particularly those belonging to the Laminaria family). Dried seaweeds contain about 0.45% of iodine. Until 1959, seaweed was the key source of iodine, and it remains an important source of iodine in the people’s diets around the globe.

Seawater is recognised as the world’s biggest iodine reserve: globally, it contains appr. 35 million metric tons of iodine. However, the direct extraction of the element from seawater is not economically feasible given the extremely low concentrations – less than 0.05 ppm.

Caliche ores and underground brines remain the major commercially exploited sources for iodine extraction. The main reserves of iodine are located in Japan, Chile, the US, and some other countries.

Structure of global iodine reserves by country, 2017

 Structure of global iodine reserves by country, 2017

Besides, iodine is obtained as a by-product during the sodium alginate processing, mainly in China. But not more than 2% of the total volume of iodine consumed globally is derived from this source.

In the wake of supply shortages, the popularity of recycling of iodine is gathering momentum at a swift pace. This source is supposed to be of paramount importance in bridging the supply-demand gap in the years ahead, as it ensures sustainable iodine consumption, allows to save costs, complies with environmental regulations associated with inorganic waste disposal. Nowadays, many iodine manufacturers have their own recycling facilities, which recover iodine and its derivatives from iodine waste streams. Last year, the recycling of iodine accounted for around 17% of the world’s total iodine sales. Amid countries, Japan grabbed the bulk share (appr. 70%) of the iodine recycling segment.  

PRODUCTION

The world’s iodine production volume exhibited a modest but steady growth over the past several years. As of 2016, it surpassed 34,000 metric tons. However, the global supply of iodine still remains rather limited.

At present, Chile tops the list of the iodine-producing countries. The Chilean iodine output volume registered a slight YoY decline in 2017 and totaled nearly 20,000 metric tons. The country’s producers currently contribute over half of the global nominal capacity, capturing a share of around 58% of the world’s total iodine production volume. Chile also ranks as the dominant exporter of iodine in the world. In 2016, Chile’s iodine exports value was estimated at some USD 412.6 million.

The second biggest iodine producer is Japan, accounting for appr. 28% of the world’s iodine supply. Last year, the Japanese iodine production volume went up by 800 metric tons YoY and climbed to 10,600 metric tons.

Top iodine mine producers during 2012-2017 (in thousand metric tons)

Top iodine mine producers during 2012-2017 (in thousand metric tons)

Other iodine-producing countries (including the US, China, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, and some other) divide up the remaining 14% share.

CONSUMPTION

The world’s demand for iodine is following an upward trend and currently exceeds 35,000 metric tons per year. Presently, Europe is the leading iodine consumer worldwide. However, the highest growth of the demand for iodine is witnessed in the Asia-Pacific region; this is majorly attributed to the growing consumption of iodized salt, increasing use in the healthcare sector, as well as surging electronics industry in the region.

As for application spheres, the X-ray contrast media segment holds the lion’s share (nearly 23%) of the total iodine consumption. This is attributed to iodine’s low toxicity, high atomic number, and easy adjunction with organic compounds. The share of this end-use is poised to continue increasing in the coming years, spurred by the considerable improvements in medical technologies along with the upturn in nuclear medicinal techniques.

Meantime, the LCD polarizing films segment is slated to grow at the highest CAGR in the medium to long term, majorly owing to the ongoing technological advancements in display panels, burgeoning smartphone industry, and expanding consumer electronics industry.

Structure of iodine demand by application, 2017

Structure of iodine demand by application, 2017

The scarcity of iodine in soils owing to low profusion as earth crust element causes a range of deficiency problems in humans and animals, for instance, goiter, intellectual disabilities, mental retardation, eyesight diseases, heart disorders, and some other, therefore iodine and its derivatives form an essential part of human nutrition and also are a vital additive in animal feed.

Iodine derivatives serve as significant intermediates in the chemicals industry. Besides, iodine is used as a catalyst in an array of chemical reactions, as a disinfectant in water treatment, in biocides, iodophors, etc.

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