The ICIS Expandable Polystyrene report is published weekly in Asia, Europe and the US. Price assessments cover spot or contract markets for block, packaging, insulation standard and flame retardant grades, depending on the region.
These unbiased and independent reports will give you valuable insight into market developments and the key factors that are driving prices. News and analysis include an overview of the market, feedstocks movements, production schedules and graphs. Our locally based reporters provide intelligence enabling you to follow the up-to-date developments on the market and make informed commercial decisions.
Updated to Q1 2021
Domestic Chinese run rates were low because holidays were ongoing there. Cuts in northeast Asian run rates were evident as well, with some producers shutting their units for a week at least because of the holidays.
Demand in domestic China was mostly lacklustre because of limited activity in the construction sector during the winter season. Outside of China, demand was mostly slow because of continuous partial lockdowns in several regions in southeast Asia.
European expandable polystyrene (EPS) supply was balanced across Q1 2021, but shortened in March due to stable to good demand amid rising upstream styrene costs and lack of supply to EPS producers, which resulted in reduced output rates. Short styrene supply was due to a force majeure in Europe and a lack of imports from the US due to severe winter weather. Imports of EPS also remained at a low level across Q1.
European expandable polystyrene (EPS) demand in Q1 2021 remained strong for white goods and industrial packaging, driven by the ongoing strong demand trend for appliances. Construction demand was soft in January and February due to severe winter weather conditions, but activity started to pick up in March ahead of the high season in Q2. Fish boxes packaging remained steady and stable across Q1, driven by seasonal fishing trends and unchanged activity from fish farms.
EPS supply tightened in Q1 owing to significant losses in styrene monomer production due to the mid-February polar storm along the US Gulf Coast. The storm caused the bulk of US styrene production to at least temporarily shut down, resulting in lower average operating rates on the part of North American EPS plants. Inventory levels started the quarter at the lowest point seen in three years amid ongoing demand strength.
EPS demand remained strong through Q1 on the back of an ongoing expansion in US manufacturing activity. Demand from residential construction and remodelling remained strong throughout the traditional winter slow season for construction while foam food packaging demand has been healthy since the onset of the pandemic. Spot supplies have been limited as most buyers continue to purchase near their contractual maximums.
We offer the following regional Expandable polystyrene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Expandable polystyrene marketplace.
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Expandable Polystyrene Methodology
Expandable polystyrene (EPS) is a rigid cellular form of polystyrene with good thermal insulation and shock absorbing properties, high compressive strength, low weight and a resistance to moisture.
Expandable polystyrene (EPS) is a rigid cellular form of polystyrene (PS) with good thermal insulation and shock absorbing properties, high compressive strength, low weight and resistance to moisture.
Building and construction applications are the largest outlet for EPS. Large quantities are used to make insulation foam for closed cavity walls, roofs and floor insulation. EPS foam also finds uses in road construction, bridges, drainage, flotation and sound insulation.
The other main application of EPS is in packaging. Food items such as eggs, meat, fish and poultry can be packed with EPS. The good shock absorbency of EPS makes is suitable for the packaging of delicate electronic goods.
Other uses for EPS include providing protection in crash helmets and as decoration in design work.