Global maleic anhydride markets have experienced a sharp upturn in late 2020 and 2021 following the negative growth seen in 2020 as markets continued to open up in most major economies. The markets have seen a huge boost in demand, mainly from the unsaturated polyester resin (UPR) side but also from the acidulants sector. Meanwhile, demand from the automotive sector has been dragged down by the global shortage of semiconductor chips, with many car manufacturers reportedly cutting outputs by up to 40%, with little sign of improvement. Our next update will include the impact of the pandemic on these markets.
Although UPR demand traditionally slows down in Q4, this year has been exceptional and strong demand is expected to continue into the last quarter of 2021. Early analysis suggests that the recovery rate has been a little faster than previously predicted and global maleic anhydride consumption in 2021 will even see a slight growth from the 2019 level. The long-term 2025-2030 forecast remains relatively unchanged from the forecast contained in the current update of the database. The growth trend is unchanged. However, there will be a gap between what we expected and the reality that COVID-19 has dealt us.
Supply side insight
On the supply side, the maleic anhydride market in Europe has been tight in 2021 due to production disruptions and slow imports. The logistics issues related to COVID-19, due to both longer turn-around times in ports and container shortages, has resulted in both a surge in freight rates and cancellations and delays in shipments. In the US, imports only make up a small proportion of the maleic anhydride market; however, supply has also been kept very tight in 2021 due to production disruptions following the winter storm in February. Although supply has been gradually improving in Europe and the US in recent months, continuing robust demand has kept both markets relatively snug.