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WASHINGTON (November 20, 2020) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes increased 1.2 percent in October, up from a revised 0.1 percent gain in September and 1.1 percent gain in August. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments that ACC monitors, 25 expanded in October, up from nine in September. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 89 percent, up from 34 percent in September. Of the 25 segments showing growth in October, 18 featured gains of 1.0 percent or more.

During October, overall specialty chemicals volumes were off 6.5 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, an improvement from September. Volumes stood at 104.4 percent of their average 2012 levels in October. This is equivalent to 7.11 billion pounds (3.23 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, five chemical segments showed gains: Cosmetic additives, electronic chemicals, flavors and fragrances, plastic compounding, and water management chemicals. On a year-earlier basis, diffusion was 20 percent in October, an improvement from 11 percent in September.

Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of the unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They can be individual molecules or mixtures of molecules, known as formulations. The physical and chemical characteristics of the single molecule or mixtures along with the composition of the mixtures influence the performance end product. Individual market sectors that rely on such products include automobile, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food, among others.

Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals. Specialties may only have one or two uses, whereas commodities may have multiple or different applications for each chemical. Commodity chemicals comprise most of the production volume in the global marketplace, while specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity in commerce at any given time and are relatively high value, with greater market growth rates.

This data set is the only timely source of market trends for 28 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Chemistry directly touches over 96 percent of all manufactured goods, and trends in these specialty chemical segments provide a detailed view of trends in manufacturing. The data also shed light on how various consumer end-use markets are performing compared to others in the marketplace.

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Note that there are revisions to several segments as well as revisions to the underlying end-use data.

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