We take this opportunity to wish all of you, our readers and advertisers, a healthy and prosperous 2007. There are a number of exciting events on the calendar for this year, and we will of course be reporting on them.

I still have some information regarding the High Performance and Functional Pigments conference to report on that I began last November. Based on data provided by SRI Consulting, the global volume of pigments is 7.2 million tons, of which the black and white commodity pigments make up the largest share, with 63.4% being titanium dioxide and 11.1% carbon black. Zinc oxide is 0.4%, and the color and special-effect pigments group accounts for the remaining 25.1% volume.

This latter group (1. 8 million tons) is dominated by iron oxide at 71.1% of the global volume; complex inorganics, ultramarine etc., at 10.0%; and the color organic and special-effect pigments at 18.9%. This latter group (~340 thousand tons) is comprised of high-performance and special-effect pigments (27.0%), and the remainder is comprised of the red, yellow, blue and green organics. The classic organic pigment prices are much lower of course than the HPP organics, which typically range from $25 - $58/kg. Both organic and inorganic HPPs are higher price as the market dictates. The special-effect pigment group is comprised of the metal-effect/aluminum group, the pearlescents and the color-shifting pigments plus the fluorescent, luminescent, thermochromic and security pigments.

We tend to think of titanium dioxide as high price, and it is compared to iron oxide, but these two plus the chromates are relatively low in the pigment price range. Carbon black, metal-effect, complex inorganic and classic organics are mid-range in price, and the organic HPPs, pearlescent and color-shifting pigments are the most expensive.

The classic organic color and HPP producers are from Germany, Switzerland and Japan; the major metal-effect producers are from Germany, the United States and the UK; the major complex inorganic producers are from Germany and the United States; and the color-shifting producers are from Germany. What is changing however is that production is shifting to China and India. There are a staggering number of new consumers in Asia, and in fact, China is now the second largest new vehicle market. It is to be expected that as manufacturing continues to shift to other global locations, the demand for pigment produced in the United States and Europe will be less. The consequence of this will be more production of these pigments in India and China. Import export figures for the past 10 years show major differences occurring. These changes are reflected in all aspects of the coatings industry and are not confined solely to the pigment sector.

We expect an exciting new year of challenges, change and new technology as nanosized materials continue to gain momentum. We have exciting meetings coming up, both international and locally, and hope to see you in attendance. Happy New Year!