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WASHINGTON (December 21, 2020) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes grew 0.4% in November following a revised 1.5% gain in October. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments that ACC monitors, 17 expanded in November, off from 25 in October. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 61%, down from 91% in October. Of the 17 segments that expanded November, six – catalysts, lubricant additives, mining chemicals, oilfield chemicals, paper additives, and plasticizers – featured gains of 1.0% or more.

During November, overall specialty chemicals volumes were off 5.8% on a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, an improvement from October. Volumes stood at 105.3% of their average 2012 levels in October. This is equivalent to 7.17 billion pounds (3.25 million metric tons). On a year-earlier basis, gains were seen in seven segments: Cosmetic additives, dyes, electronic chemicals, flavors and fragrances, food additives, paper additives, and plastic compounding. On a year-earlier basis, diffusion was 25% in November, an improvement from 20 percent in October.

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% 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.


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


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