OUTLOOK ’12: Asia melamine price trends unclear on mixed views

30 December 2011 06:14  [Source: ICIS news]

By Loh Bowei

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot melamine price trends are unclear in the first quarter of 2012, with views on demand mixed amid an uncertain global economy, industry sources said.

“[Downstream] sales have been very bad [in] the past two months and exports see no improvement,” said a Malaysian end-user. “We are normally very busy before the Lunar New Year, but it is not happening now.”

The spot prices of non-Chinese melamine were assessed at $1420-1510/tonne CFR (cost & freight) NE/SE (northeast/southeast) Asia and $1200-1220/tonne FOB (free on board) China, according to the latest price data from ICIS.

“Because of the economic situation, demand [for melamine] is shrinking in Asia and Europe,” a northeast Asian supplier said.

Another northeast Asian producer said demand will still be weak in the first quarter. However, most end-users will ease their inventories of melamine raw material towards the end of 2011, the producer said, adding that inventory levels of melamine users are low, so buying would still take place in the next quarter.

Thailand’s flooding [problem] will be resolved and when they are back, they will have more construction to do,” said a major regional producer, which said it expects its melamine sales to fair better in the next quarter.

Japan’s reconstruction will start next year, Indonesia is in its growing phase and Malaysia will grow with Japan since they export wood-based panels there,” the producer added.

However, a southeast Asian consumer said factories in Thailand will need to be renovated and so companies are likely to spend on renovation instead of melamine purchases.

Increased competition from China has also depressed prices as some end-users are testing the feasibility of using cheaper Chinese melamine, market sources said.

The spot prices for Chinese melamine were at $1,420-1,510/tonne FOB China on 28 December for regular-quality melamine, according to ICIS.

Export offers from Chinese producers for premium-quality melamine were heard at $1,300/tonne FOB China on 28 December, producers said.

“[The quality of Chinese melamine] has improved a lot over the past six years,” an adhesives maker said.

A major Chinese producer of premium material said there will be several start-ups next year (see table below), which may generate supply and place downward pressure on prices.  

However, the producer said prices have bottomed out because they are near cost prices and suppliers are “not willing to go very much lower”.

Market players said they expect the revival of the melamine markets to depend on the recovery of China next year, industry sources said.

Melamine is used in the construction industry in the production of coatings, laminates and flame retardants. It is also used to manufacture adhesive resins, which are used to make wood panels to build kitchens, bathrooms, furniture and flooring.


Capacity (tonnes)




Scheduled start–up date

Shandong Shuntian Chemical


East China



January 2012

Junhua Haohua


Central China



Early 2012

Shandong Luxi


East China



Early 2012

Anhui Guoyang


East China



March 2012

Jiangsu Yinzhu Chemical


East China



March 2012

Chongqing Jian Feng


Southwest China



Early 2012
















($1 = €0.77)

For more information on melamine, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Loh Bowei

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