NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – Despite a challenging economy and declining production, the polyurethane industry continued to evolve over the past two years while addressing growing concerns over energy conservation, that according to the 2008 End-Use Market Survey on the Polyurethanes Industry in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Research conducted by IAL Consultants on behalf of the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), shows that overall production of polyurethane in NAFTA declined by 6.7 percent per year during the past two years. The figure reflects a 7.7 percent annual decline in U.S. markets and 10.8 percent decline in Canada, while Mexico has shown positive growth for the third consecutive survey. The production of polyurethane in Mexico increased at an average annual rate of 9.6 percent over the past two years, partly due to increased domestic demand.

Signs of growth in the polyurethane industry included continued increases in spray polyurethane foam demand for residential and industrial applications, as well as use of the material by the U.S. Army to insulate tents and other structures at bases in the Middle East. Polyurethane is also being used for effective wound dressings, pharmaceutical delivery media, reliable drug delivery, comfortable mobility aids and hygienic hospital environments. The demand for low-VOC and high-performance coatings related to product substitutions made the decline in the production of coatings, adhesives, sealants and TPU less severe.

The United States, representing 81 percent of the total polyurethane production in NAFTA, had a market breakdown similar to NAFTA overall. Imports of upholstered furniture continued to increase in the United States.

In Mexico, production of rigid polyurethane foam dominated the market as new companies invested in the country and the appliance industry continued to grow. Mexican furniture and automotive markets also grew during 2008, driven by export and domestic demand.

Canada, the third market in the NAFTA region, accounted for 8.9 percent of total production.