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MARKET TRENDS: Going Green

February 1, 2004
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Green solvents to post healthy gains through 2007



Demand for solvents is projected to increase 1.3% per year to 11.2 bil. lbs. in 2007. This represents a considerable improvement from the previous five-year period, when solvent usage declined slightly. While demand for conventional solvents is expected to register modest gains, the smaller green solvents segment will continue to post healthy advances. Growth for green solvents has been driven primarily by environmental and regulatory concerns that have prompted end users to replace traditional solvents with more benign alternatives. Indeed, most of the conventional solvents projected to register above-average growth will do so largely by means of replacing hydrocarbons and other problematic solvents.

These and other trends are presented in Solvents, a study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

Value gains for the solvents market will average 2.4% annually to $3.4 bil. in 2007. While the value growth of conventional solvents is expected to be well below average, advances in market value for green solvents are projected to exceed 6% annually. As a result, by 2007, green solvents will account for nearly 25% of overall solvents market value. In general, price increases for individual products are expected to be quite modest, even for most of the green solvents. As a result, market value growth will result from a combination of modest overall volume increases coupled with a shift in the product mix favoring green solvents and less objectionable conventional solvents, most of which are more expensive than the traditional products whose market presence is being eroded by the newer alternatives.

Manufacturers of adhesives, coatings, printing inks and other products remain committed to reducing solvent loadings in their products, as evidenced by the growing preponderance of waterborne coatings, increased production of aqueous printing inks, and high-solids versions of adhesives and sealants. While these trends will lead to outright declines for many traditional solvent products, they will also create opportunities for alternative products. Many of these alternatives, such as propylene glycol, terpenes and hydrogen peroxide, are green solvents. But some conventional solvents, namely alcohols (ethanol in particular) and esters, will also register gains.

Solvents (published 04/2003, 329 pages) is available for $3,900 from The Freedonia Group Inc., 767 Beta Dr., Cleveland, OH 44143-2326. For more information, contact Corinne Gangloff, phone 440-684-9600; fax 440-646-0484; e-mail pr@freedoniagroup.com; or visit www.freedoniagroup.com.

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