The titanium dioxide (TiO2) industry is certainly cyclic and always in flux. PCI recently met with Bryan Snell, President of Chemours Titanium Technologies, to discuss the current state of the industry, challenges customers face when purchasing TiO2 and a new initiative that Chemours is offering to offset some of these challenges – the Ti-Pure™ Value Stabilization (TVS) customer model. TVS offers two customized options for TiO2 customers to meet their unique needs and market conditions.
PCI: What is the current state of the TiO2 industry in terms of pricing and capacity?
Snell: During the first quarter of 2019, Chemours monitored the experiences of our customers through interactions with our sales teams and by reviewing the earnings reports of our customers that are publicly traded. What we learned is the market was softer than expected. For Chemours, our net sales volume in the first quarter was down by approximately 35 percent. However, the prices have remained steady. We are confident, and so are our customers, that the market will rebound in the second half of this year if underlying macro-economic conditions are supportive.
PCI: What are customers asking for regarding TiO2 pricing and supply?
Snell: Aside from wanting high-quality titanium dioxide pigment with batch-to-batch consistency, customers also want access to a predictable, reliable supply of TiO2 with product pricing transparency. This enables them to focus on their long-range planning and position themselves as leaders in their markets where there is an increasing premium on quality, consistency, operational agility and product innovation. By reducing their supply chain complexity, our customers can focus on their downstream quality and product differentiation.
PCI: Does the volatility of the market make it hard to meet customer needs?
Snell: The cyclicality and volatility of the TiO2 market for our customers is what we are attempting to address with our value stabilization initiative. In the past, TiO2 customers had to deal with market volatility that fluctuated between worry about price in some years, and worry about product availability in others. We believe giving customers a range of customized supply options provides greater flexibility and choice - allowing them to choose an option that meets their unique needs and market conditions.
PCI: What are some of the frustrations and challenges that result from typical TiO2 purchasing strategies?
Snell: Titanium dioxide customers often express the need for greater control over long-term business planning and success, which often revolves around the availability and price of the pigments they utilize in their products. Responsible titanium dioxide providers will address this issue by offering customers access to a predictable, reliable supply of high-quality pigments with product pricing transparency. This enables the customers to focus on their long-range planning and position themselves as leaders in their specific markets. At the same time, titanium dioxide providers need to have visibility into future customer pigment and technology needs in order to invest in capacity building and product innovation, while focusing on enhancing durable, value-oriented customer relationships.
PCI: What is the Ti-Pure Value Stabilization approach, and how it is expected to help both your company and your customers?
Snell: Our TVS strategy is based in part on our ability to work closely with our customers to capture the strategic value-in-use of our technology within their commercial offerings. We want our customers to have confidence that we will be there to support their growth, both with increased supply of TiO2 and with a sustained investment in product innovation.
This commercial model was created in response to customer demands that we reduce the volatility of pricing and increase the security of supply for their business supply chains to ensure our customers’ growth needs are met. TVS offers customized options that provide greater flexibility and choice - allowing customers to choose an option that meets their unique needs and market conditions. Whether customers value a long-term partnership going forward, or choose to work with us in a more flexible manner, TVS offers them both options.
The Ti-Pure Assured Value Agreement (AVA) involves a relationship based on a strong mutual commitment from Chemours to reliably supply a fixed share of a customer’s TiO2 consumption with a predictable, transparent pricing model that enables long-term planning. The reliable supply arrangement of AVA optimizes cash management for customers and provides priority access to technical expertise from Chemours.
For customers interested in a transactional approach, we have launched a new, innovative option, Ti-Pure Flex. Flex gives customers the unique ability to purchase TiO2 via a web-based portal - a first in the industry. Ordering product is simple and quick. In addition, this transactional approach requires no advance commitment.
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