CLEVELAND - Global demand for thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) is forecast to rise 6.3 percent per year to 5.6 million metric tons in 2015. Gains will represent an acceleration from the pace of the 2005-2010 period, as motor vehicle production - the leading outlet for TPEs - rebounds in the United States and Western Europe. Advances will also be fueled by the rising use of TPEs in the developing countries of the world, where these materials are continuing to penetrate new applications. Additionally, TPE demand will benefit from the ongoing push to reduce motor vehicle weight. Limiting further gains, however, will be a high degree of maturity in slower-growing markets such as footwear. These and other trends are presented in “World Thermoplastic Elastomers,” a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

The Asia-Pacific region will continue to be the largest and fastest-growing market for TPEs through 2015, when it will account for nearly half of global demand. China, which has become the world’s largest consumer of TPEs, will continue to see robust growth in demand. Regional gains will also benefit from nearly double-digit annual expansion in India and a noticeable acceleration in the Japanese market. TPE demand in North America and Western Europe will see substantial improvement compared to the recession-plagued 2005-2010 period. Over the long term, however, these regions are expected to account for an increasingly smaller share of global TPE demand. Other world regions will enjoy above-average advances in TPE demand through 2015, particularly Eastern Europe with its expanding automotive production industry.

Motor vehicles account for the largest portion of the world TPE market, with 30 percent of total demand in 2010. Consumer goods markets will see slightly subpar gains, however, as rising use in applications such as appliances and household items will be countered by the large and mature footwear market. The fastest growth will be seen in smaller-volume TPE markets, driven primarily by the robust medical products industry, as well as emerging applications in the packaging market.

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