Polypropylene outperforms polymer demand in Europe


PP demand in Europe (Source: AMI Consulting)
PP demand in Europe (Source: AMI Consulting)

According to a recently published study by the industry consultants Applied Market Information Ltd (AMI Consulting), which are based in Bristol, UK, the last 5 years have seen demand growth for polypropylene (PP) outstrip the polymer market in Europe. Over the period PP demand has grown by almost 10%. However, even PP was not immune to the weak economic circumstances in 2012 and therefore much of its growth has occurred within the last 3 years.  Its prospects over the next 5 years remain buoyant too.

The packaging sector represents the largest demand for PP in Europe. PP is used in a wide range of rigid and flexible packaging applications from single use films, bottles and food containers to multi-trip large crates and boxes.  Demand for PP in most of these applications has grown strongly, driven by growing retail activity and increasing penetration of PP in some applications where it is in competition with not only other polymers but also paper, metal and glass alternatives. However, in some applications, for example BOPP, imports have been increasing which has dampened PP's growth in Europe.  Recent and planned investments in new capacity for BOPP will see this situation overturned in the next few years

As European demand for PP has grown so too has the level of imports, which has increased sharply particularly from the Middle East where significant new capacity has been developed. However, despite the strength of global competition, Europe remains the cradle of technical developments in PP.  European PP producers tend to focus on shifting their business towards higher value applications and providing solutions to support the PP processors seeking to do the same. Hence European exports of PP have only marginally declined and European producers have enjoyed increasingly high levels of utilisation.