U.S. demand for pigments is forecast to rise 5% annually, reaching $3.6 billion in 2007, according to a new study. Value gains will be driven by a shift in the product mix toward more-expensive organic and specialty types offering acceptable environmental profiles or providing unique optical effects for heightened consumer appeal.

Demand for inorganic pigments will remain relatively weak due to the continuing phase-out of heavy-metal types, according to The Freedonia Group (Cleveland) report, Pigments: Organic, Inorganic & Specialty. However, opportunities will arise for certain inorganic products, such as industrial-grade ultramarine, complex inorganic and bismuth vandate types.

Specialty pigments are projected to achieve the most rapid gains, increasing 6.7% per year to $560 million in 2007. Further penetration of metallic and pearlescent types in automotive finishes will support gains. Increased requirements for unique and novel eye-catching optical effects by manufacturers will provide additional opportunities.

Organic pigments, the largest category, will also record above-average growth. Gains will be spurred by the use of these environmentally friendly colorants as replacements for heavy-metal inorganic pigments. Increases will also be driven by greater use of high-performance pigments, particularly in such applications as waterborne powder coatings and inks, and radiation-curable coatings and inks.

Growth in inorganic pigments will lag the industry average, primarily due to the continued displacement of heavy-metal pigments by organic types. Nevertheless, healthy growth exists for certain inorganic pigments. Industrial-grade ultramarines will gain use in plastics due to color trends favoring transparent materials. Complex inorganics will find greater use due to their excellent lightfastness and chemical resistance. Bismuth vandates are an environmentally friendly alternative to heavy-metal pigments in end uses such as motor vehicle coatings.

For more information about the study, contact The Freedonia Group at 440-684-9600.