Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is an organic solvent and a valuable chemical intermediate used in a very broad range of industries. The three top MEK-consuming sectors include painting/coatings, printing inks, and adhesives. Industry-wise, MEK is consumed in refining, construction, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, furniture, tires, textile, electronic, automobile, rubber, and other industries. MEK is efficiently soluble, low viscous, stable, and non-toxic; it demonstrates optimal parameters for boiling point, evaporation, and volatilization. MEK is commercially manufactured by butylene hydration to produce secondary butyl alcohol, which is then dehydrogenated. The bio-route of synthesizing MEK from biomass-derived carbohydrates is under development. The current global MEK production is close to 1.8 million tons per year, and the MEK market is worth US$3.5 billion. Demand for MEK is dominated by Asia Pacific.
Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK): structure of the global demand by region, 2022
In Q3 2023, the global MEK market shared similar behaviour and trends across various regions. The market was shaped by weaker demand in practically all key MEK-consuming sectors, as well as by bearish sentiment, low production margins, and stabilized MEK prices. This price stabilization was preceded by some MEK price declines in different regions of the world in Q2 2023. The supplies of both MEK feedstock and MEK itself were ample following the period of active maintenance turnarounds of major MEK-producing facilities, but the sufficient offer was mainly due to decreased consumption of MEK. For example, in Q2 2023, Shell plc, which produces MEK, recorded a drop in the earnings in its Chemicals and Products segment, as compared to Q1 2023, and this trend, which reflects an overall weaker demand for chemicals, is likely to prevail in the third and fourth quarters of the year. Lower producers’ margins associated with MEK manufacturing deteriorated MEK export movements from Asia Pacific to Europe and North America. There is no sign that demand for MEK will improve in Q4 2023, though MEK prices might slightly rise thanks to increased feedstock costs.
Find a comprehensive analysis of the MEK market in the in-demand research report “Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK): 2023 World Market Outlook and Forecast up to 2032”.