Key Manufacturers of Polymethyl Methacrylate Need to Adapt to Market Fluctuations

Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) is a multifunctional polymer commodity, involved in complex networks of chemical products, which are especially extensive in the upstream direction. These upstream products may involve benzene, propylene, acetone and methyl methacrylate (MMA), which themselves can have various routes of production. For instance, one of the largest PMMA manufacturers, Lucite International (part of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation), manufactures MMA via the acetone cyanohydrin (ACH) process, which uses acetone, methanol, hydrocyanic acid (HCN) and natural gas as its raw materials. PMMA serves multiple markets and industries, including packaging, optical industry, automotive industry, construction, electronics, medical and healthcare, to name only a few. Such dynamic complexity of the PMMA market is inevitably coupled with its large degree of volatility.

Currently, the PMMA market in Europe is characterised by the decreased demand and price reductions. In the USA, tight supply (mostly due to the outages of MMA facilities) was offset by the subdued demand, which sent ripple effects across the whole chain. The demand for acetone in the US is currently also low. The US market witnessed the finalization of the USD 3.4 billion sale of Evonik’s methacrylates business to the US firm Advent International. The demand for PMMA in China was stable, while in the rest of Asia it was lukewarm. The drone attack on the Saudi Arabia oil infrastructure will likely to affect the feedstock prices for Saudi Methacrylates Company (SAMAC), a joint venture (JV) between Mitsubishi Chemical Corportation and Saudi Basic Industries. SAMAC’s facilities, commissioned in 2018, have a capacity of 250,000 mty of MMA and 40,000 mty of PMMA.

These fluctuations in PMMA demand, consumption, output and prices constitute a dynamic value, driven by a multitude of interconnected factors. This innate dynamism requires companies to address it via different elements of relationship marketing, vertical integration and active engagement of various stakeholders. Companies, like previously alluded Lucite International, collaboratively work with the clients, regulators, experts, researchers, NGOs, etc. on different aspects of their activity. These aspects of the PMMA business may include: technology and innovation (e.g. innovation in injection molding); contingency planning for trade conflicts (e.g. China-US trade conflict; Brexit); post-sales services; sustainability, plastic recycling, Circular Economy, renewable carbon and corresponding changes in regulation; to name only a few.

The field related to plastic recycling and Circular Economy is of particular interest for the PMMA sector. It is known that PMMA can be recycled to MMA. Each element of the route of the PMMA recycling strategy features multiple technical, managerial and commercial challenges. However, these challenges can and should be addressed.

Find a detailed analysis of the global polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) market in the insightful research reports “Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA): 2019 World Market Outlook and Forecast up to 2028”.