WASHINGTON (July 28, 2020; ACC news release) — The American Chemistry Council (ACC) recently reported that with continued recovery in the U.S. economy, specialty chemicals market volumes increased by 3.6 percent in June, an improvement from the revised 1.2 percent gain in May and the record 12.6 percent decline in April. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments that ACC monitors, 25 expanded in June, an improvement from the expansion in 22 segments in May and the decline across all segments in April. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 89 percent, an improvement from 79 percent in May and 0 percent in April. In June, 23 segments featured gains of more than 1.0 percent.
During June, overall specialty chemicals volumes were off 11.7 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis. Volumes stood at 99.0 percent of their average 2012 levels in June. This is equivalent to 6.74 billion pounds (3.06 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, gains occurred in only cosmetic additives, electronic chemicals, and flavors and fragrances. On a Y/Y basis, diffusion was 12 percent, an improvement from May and April but sharply lower than at the start of the year.
Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of the unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They can be individual molecules or mixtures of molecules, known as formulations. The physical and chemical characteristics of the single molecule or mixtures along with the composition of the mixtures influence the performance end product. Individual market sectors that rely on such products include automobile, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food, among others.
Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals. Specialties may only have one or two uses, whereas commodities may have multiple or different applications for each chemical. Commodity chemicals comprise most of the production volume in the global marketplace, while specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity in commerce at any given time and are relatively high value, with greater market growth rates.
This data set is the only timely source of market trends for 28 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Chemistry directly touches over 96 percent of all manufactured goods, and trends in these specialty chemical segments provide a detailed view of trends in manufacturing. The data also shed light on how various consumer end-use markets are performing compared to others in the marketplace.