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U.S. Specialty Chemical Markets End Second Quarter on a Solid Note

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Jennifer Scott
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WASHINGTON (July 21, 2021) – U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes rose 0.6% in June, the same gain as in May, leaving volumes off 3.7% from pre-coronavirus levels, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments that ACC monitors, 15 expanded in June, off from 19 in May. Twelve segments declined in June, while one was neutral. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 55%, down from 70% in May. During June, seven segments showed gains of 1.0% or more.

During June, overall specialty chemicals volumes were up 11.3% on a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis from the depressed levels of last year. Total volumes stood at 102.3% of their average 2017 levels in June, equivalent to 7.51 billion pounds (3.41 million metric tons). On a year-earlier basis, 27 chemical segments showed gains and diffusion was 96% in June, up from 93% in May.

Since last year, the recovery has largely been V-shaped. At the mid-point of the year, volumes were up 2.7% year-to-date. If the economic recovery continues, 2021 should be a good year for specialty chemicals.

Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of their unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They may 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 with others.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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