WASHINGTON — As the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic—and despite rising costs—the chemical industry in the U.S. is experiencing a strong rebound, with most of the top companies reporting increased sales and profits. That’s according to Chemical & Engineering News, an independent news outlet of the American Chemical Society, which has published its latest survey of the top 50 US chemical producers based on the 2021 fiscal year.

The survey reveals a sharp rise in sales and profits for chemical producers, writes Senior Correspondent Alex Tullo. Combined, the top 50 companies posted $333.6 billion in chemical sales in 2021, up 34.9% from the previous year. Only a few firms saw sales declines (Ashland, DuPont and Ecovyst), because they recently sold major businesses. All other firms reported sales increases. A large portion of the increase in revenues is from the rising costs that were passed on to consumers as supply chains and sourcing chemical feedstocks continued to be issues in the industry. To keep up with these costs, most companies increased their chemical capital spending and R&D budgets, in contrast to the drastic spending cuts made during 2020 lockdowns.

Even in the face of rising costs and increased spending, the combined operating profits of the top 45 firms totaled $56.0 billion, an increase of 129.8% compared to 2020. Dow, the top chemical producer according to the survey, reported a profit increase of over 200% and $55.0 billion in chemical sales. Planning for the future, a few of the largest chemical companies, including Dow, ExxonMobil and Air Products, have invested in carbon capture and mitigation. Others are focused on acquisitions, mergers and building new plants during the post-pandemic economic recovery.

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