Higher Feedstock Costs Drive Current Polyvinyl Alcohol Prices in the US

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) is firmly entrenched in the complex commodity chain. This chain includes acetic acid, ethylene, oxygen, vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), polyvinyl acetate and other end-products in a wide range of applications, like paper, adhesive, film, textiles, packaging, construction, personal care, and many others.

Main end-markets for polyvinyl alcohol (globally)

As such, the PVOH market is highly susceptible to the influence of multiple factors, including raw materials price fluctuations, the end-product market behaviour, certain seasonal factors (e.g. traditional spring turnarounds at VAM facilities in the US), environmental concerns, force majeure circumstances, to name only a few.

Therefore, recent price increases for some PVOH products in the USA in the first quarter of 2018 came as no surprise due to the tight situation with feedstocks, Hurricane Harvey aftermath circumstances and outages at some facilities.

To this extent, Sekisui Specialty Chemicals, which operates the largest PVOH capacity (c. 90,000 mt/y) in the USA, increased the price for its Selvol PVOH range by $200 and $250 per tonne (subject to the geographic location of the market), effective March 1, 2018. Sekisui admitted that recent increases in raw material prices were instrumental in affecting company’s margins in the PVOH sector, thus making the company to raise PVOH prices. Sekisui’s Selvol is a highly versatile line of high-performance polymers, flexibly adjustable to multiple applications (e.g. surface sizing agent in paper industry; binder in pigmented coatings systems; colloidal stabilizer of vinyl-acetate-based emulsions for adhesives; etc.) by employing different grades with varied molecular weight and hydrolysis level.

In late 2017, Kuraray Group also announced analogous price increases (US$ 300/tonne) for its PVOH grades, effective 1 December, 2017. Kuraray America Inc. operates a 40,000 mt/y PVOH facility in La Porte (TX, US).

More information on the global polyvinyl alcohol market can be found in the in-demand research study “Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVOH): 2018 World Market Outlook and Forecast up to 2027”.