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Masterbaches market in Asia

Most of China’s 500 masterbatch producers are small-sized enterprises, although the 50 leading companies control roughly half of local masterbatch production. Most of the plants, whether operated by a local or an international company, serve relatively local markets. Due to poor logistics and little long-distance supply, the researchers say it is not possible to speak of a homogenous Chinese market. US-based Cabot Plastics is the country’s leading masterbatch producer.

The market for colour masterbatch, by contrast, is more diversified, split among the two Chinese producers Yangxi Huaqiang Color Masterbatch Factory and Guangdong Charming Company, as well as global players PolyOne and Clariant. Shantou Meilian Chemical remains China’s leading white masterbatch producer, whereas A. Schulman heads the list of additive manufacturers. In value terms, by contrast, the leading producer is Ngai Hing Hong, whose portfolio includes the full range of black, white, colour and additive.

Other markets will primarily be driven by their use in consumer products and packaging and a continuing shift away from the direct use of pigments and dry blends. South Korea and Thailand are the other significant masterbatch markets, accounting for 11% and 9% of the regional demand respectively. Both have well developed markets for masterbatch as the local processing industry is relatively sophisticated generally operating to high standards. A strong growth market in recent years, although starting from a relatively small base, has been seen in Vietnam where there has significant growth in plastics processing. However, the use of masterbatch is still relatively unsophisticated, but it has already attracted a number of foreign investors for masterbatch production such as Clariant and Culamix.

In general, plastics processors in Asia are increasingly demanding more sophisticated products and raw materials. All of this has had an impact on the masterbatch industry with companies becoming more technically advanced in their product development and switching away from the use of dry pigments or compounds. In terms of the structure of demand Asia has a slightly higher requirement for colour masterbatch compared to black or white, reflecting the wide demand for colours for consumer product manufacturing in the region. A significant proportion of the additive masterbatch demand is accounted for by the use of anti-fibrillation masterbatch for the woven flat yarn raffia market.

Although there is expected to be some slowing in growth rates for masterbatch in Asia going forward, there remains significant room for further development of the market in the region. Future demand will be fuelled by the twin trends of increased production of plastic components, packaging, consumer goods and other products in the region and the continuing penetration of masterbatch vs competing colouring methods. The impact of the recession has been relatively muted in most Asian countries and demand for masterbatch continued to grow. Demand for masterbatch products in Asia grew by 6% in 2009, according to recent report by AMI. Demand is forecast to grow at between 7% and 8% annually up to 2013, when it will rise to over 1.2 mln tpa as the region continues to be the world’s fastest growing market for the products.