Global Business Opportunities of Maleic Anhydride Market

  • Maleic anhydride is a colorless and crystalline organic compound commercially derived from the oxidation of benzene or butane. The chemical is crucial for the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins, apart from which it is also widely used in automobile bodies, construction, furniture, pipes and ducts, corrosion-resistant tanks, radar domes, bathroom fixtures, paints and coatings, and fiberglass-reinforced plastics.


    The demand for unsaturated resins and BDO has risen considerably in the recent years. This in turn is translated into an increased demand for maleic anhydride in the global scenario, since it is a crucial raw material used in the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins. Apart from this, the global maleic anhydride market also hugely benefitted from the expansion of lubricant market. 


    Robust Growth of end-use Markets to Boost Demand for Maleic Anhydride


    Maleic anhydride finds applications in several end users, which include automotive/transportation, building & construction, wind energy, pipes & tanks, marine, and electrical & electronics. It is also widely used in the manufacture of corrosion-resistant tanks, paints and coatings, fiberglass-reinforced plastics, and bathroom fixtures.


    Most of these end-use segments have registered robust growth in the last couple of years, thereby creating an environment for the maleic anhydride market to thrive considerably. For instance, the low cost of manufacturing augments the use of unsaturated polyester resins for structural and decorative applications as a preferred substitute for metals. The rise in demand for polyester resins directly corresponds to a rise in demand for maleic anhydride. In response to these growth drivers, the global market for maleic anhydride market will exhibit growth at a 6.4% CAGR between 2012 and 2018. 


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    BDO, copolymers, additives (lubricants and oil), and unsaturated polyester resins constitute the major application segments of the market. Of these, unsaturated polyester resins led the maleic anhydride market with a 49% share of the total market in 2012. BDO holds the next largest share of the global market for maleic anhydride. 


    Surging Demand for Bio-based Chemicals to Limit Market Growth


    Despite enjoying a strong run in the global market, manufacturers of maleic anhydride are likely to face more limitations than ever in the coming years. Surging demand for alternatives to petro-based maleic anhydride such as bio-based chemicals can go grossly against the maleic anhydride market. In addition, fluctuating crude oil prices will also restrict market growth to an extent, since benzene is derived from crude oil. 


    However, these hindrances can be averted by appropriately investing in research and development initiatives to find ways to derive bio-based maleic anhydride from non-crude oil sources such as animal fat and vegetable oils. A key market player, Myriant, has already taken an initiative to fund R&D activities on similar lines. 


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    Asia Pacific to Continue its Dominance in the Market 


    Accounting for over 55% of the volume consumed globally, Asia Pacific was the largest market for maleic anhydride in 2012. Fed by the expansion of the automotive industry in emerging economies such as China, South Korea, and India, the demand for maleic anhydride showcased sustainable growth in the last few years. Moreover, improved living standards, rapid economic growth, escalating disposable incomes, and the accelerating population in China and India will foster market growth in the near future as well. 


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    The global market for maleic anhydride is highly fragmented, with companies from different end-use industries contending to establish a strong presence. Typical end-use industries for maleic anhydride include construction, electrical, transportation, synthetic fibers, roofing, and agricultural materials. Companies such as Huntsman, Ashland, BP Chemicals, and BASF SE dominate the maleic anhydride market value chain. Other prominent companies operating in the market are Polynt SpA, Flint Hills Resources, Lanxess AG, and Ashland, DSM N.V.


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