Global demand for emulsion polymers is forecast to rise over 5% per year to 13.3 million metric tons (dry basis) by 2016, according to a new report from the Freedonia Group Inc.

Advances are expected to be fueled by the increased production of water-based coatings and adhesives, which are displacing solventborne formulations in virtually all parts of the world. In the developed world, where emulsion polymer markets are more mature, gains will benefit from a rebound in construction spending and manufacturing activity, as well as the adoption of more stringent environmental regulations concerning the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Acrylics will remain the largest and fastest growing emulsion polymer product type through 2016, when they will account for nearly 40% of the world market. 

Water-based paints, paper and paperboard coatings, and general-purpose adhesives accounted for over three quarters of global demand in 2011. The most rapid gains through 2016 will be for emulsion polymers in coatings, where water-based formulations are steadily increasing their share of the market. Even in industrialized regions such as North America and Western Europe, where water-based paints are dominant in the architectural sector, ample opportunities remain for emulsion polymers in the industrial and specialty coatings markets.

More moderate gains in demand are expected in the adhesives market, where emulsion polymers are facing competition from other low-VOC technologies such as hot melts. Below-average advances in emulsion polymer demand are forecast for the highly mature and slow growing paper and paperboard coatings market.

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