World demand for specialty silicas -- which include precipitated silica, fumed silica, silica gel, and silica sol -- will grow at a healthy 5.6 percent annual pace to 2.8 million metric tons in 2016. Volume demand will be bolstered by rising use in the rubber market due to increasing use of silica in tire treads and higher levels of tire production, and by recovery in the manufacturing sector. In both value and volume terms, the market will improve from the 2006-2011 period, when it was negatively impacted by the global economic recession of 2009. However, due to market maturity in a variety of applications in the developed world, Western Europe, Japan, and the US will experience limited gains. These and other trends, including market research and product segmentation, are presented in World Specialty Silicas, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.
Precipitated silica, the dominant specialty silica product, will continue to account for over two-thirds of global demand through 2021. Above average growth will be fueled by the adoption of “green tires,” especially in North America and the Asia/Pacific region. New tire labeling regulations in the EU, Japan, and South Korea will increase demand for precipitated silica in tire treads, where precipitated silica lowers rolling resistance (improving fuel economy) and improves wet grip. Demand for fumed silica will be boosted by an acceleration in non-tire rubber demand -- and in particular silicone rubber -- in industrial applications. Silica sol will advance at an average pace, benefiting from the acceleration in the manufacturing sector, which will boost demand for silicas in refractories, metals, and textiles. Demand growth for silica gel will be limited by market maturity in applications such as food and beverages and cat litter, restraining growth overall.
The Asia/Pacific region will continue to be the largest and fastest growing region. China will drive growth in the region as it is by far the largest global consumer of specialty silica and will boast one of the world’s fastest growth rates through 2016. Growth in Japan will significantly trail the regional average; however, it will improve markedly from the 2006-2011 pace as industrial output rebounds from the effects of the 2011 tsunami. Demand growth in Eastern Europe and Central and South America will be slightly lower than the global average. Advancing at an even slower pace will be North America and Western Europe, where many markets have reached maturity.
The Freedonia Group is a leading international business research company, founded in 1985, that publishes more than 100 industry research studies annually. This industry analysis provides an unbiased outlook and a reliable assessment of an industry and includes product segmentation and demand forecasts, industry trends, demand history, threats and opportunities, competitive strategies, market share determinations and company profiles.