Global Acetic Acid Demand Is Forecast to Grow at 3 – 4% per Year

14 Jul 2010 • by Natalie Aster
Global Acetic Acid Demand Is Forecast to Grow at 3 – 4% per Year
The three largest derivatives of methanol are formaldehyde, methyl tertiary butyl ether and Acetic acid (one of the simplest carboxylic acids).

Acetic acid is an important chemical reagent and industrial chemical, used in the production of polyethylene terephthalate (used in soft drink bottles), cellulose acetate (for photographic film), and polyvinyl acetate (for wood glue), as well as synthetic fibers and fabrics. In households, diluted Acetic acid is often used in descaling agents. In the food industry Acetic acid is used under the food additive code E260 as an acidity regulator and as a condiment. Production of vinyl acetate monomer is the largest single use of Acetic acid, it is closely followed by acetic anhydride and ester production. The volume of Acetic acid used in vinegar is comparatively small.

Acetic acid is manufactured both biologically (bacterial fermentation) and synthetically. The Acetic acid used in chemical industry is produced by methanol carbonylation route. The biological route takes up only 10% of production and the Acetic acid manufactured this way is used for vinegar production which is in line with regulations claiming for its biological origin.

In 2008 global capacity for Acetic acid stood at 12.03 M tons, with output at some 9.6 M tons. The capacity utilization rate accounts for around 82%. The USA took a 22% share of this capacity, trailed by the Asian region with 67%, Europe with 9.6%. The level of demand expansion for the material in the USA was at a mere 2% a year.

Worldwide demand has been growing at 3%-5% annually, driven largely by China, where annual demand is growing at double-digit rates. Demand in the Americas and Europe has been stagnant during the same period. Asia is experiencing the fastest growth. Acetic acid demand in China has grown at 15-16% per year over the past five years. Much of this growth has been met by imports which jumped by 30% in 2006 to reach 707,000 tons compared to 543,000 tons in 2005. However, imports could fall within the next few years as new capacity comes on-stream.

Long term global demand for Acetic acid is forecast by consultants to grow at the same level (3-4% a year). Growth will be again much higher in Asia, pulled by China.

India is also seen as a country where there could be strong Acetic acid demand growth in the future. Downstream polyester demand in India is relatively small due to a preference for natural fibres. However, this will change as polyester technology improves while constraints on land for growing cotton increase.

More information on Acetic acid market may be found in the report Acetic Acid: 2010 World Market Outlook And Forecast recently published by TD The Market Publishers, Ltd.