The ICIS Polyols reports are published weekly in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the US. This independent and unbiased pricing information covers a variety of grades including slabstock, high resilience, conventional and foam depending on the region.
Our locally-based network of reporters provide details of the factors affecting price movements. Commentary includes overviews, economic news, graphs, feedstock updates, demand and supply issues. This market intelligence will give you the confidence to make informed business decisions.
Updated to Q2 2021
Cargo availability was higher. Imports to Asia increased after production issues at Middle East-based PO and polyols units were resolved. Due to the existing shortage of containers plaguing the regional market, deep-sea trade became difficult for some Asian polyols producers. That resulted in greater competition among regional makers in liquidating their stocks.
Demand fell amid increasingly high production cost pressure from mounting prices seen earlier from mid-2020 till late March 2021. The resurgence of COVID-19 in parts of Asia led to lockdowns which in turn weighed on cargo uptake, on top of seasonal demand lull.
Tightness gradually eased in the Europe conventional flexible polyols market in Q2, as supply from domestic sources improved and there were fewer plant disruptions than in Q1. The availability of upstream feedstock PO and EO also improved. Supply of specialty grades as well as coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers polyols and rigid polyols remained tight.
Demand for polyols slowed in Europe in Q2, as flexible foam consumption cooled off as a result of seasonal factors and the typical summer holiday period for the flexible PU foam industry. Automotive seating demand remains subdued, following a shortage of semiconductors. Demand for specialty polyols remained comparatively firm throughout the quarter.
POP supply remained stable in Q2, until the end of May. At the end of May, a large shipment of PO from a major Middle East producer to China created ample supply in China. June saw increased polyols supply in China and stiff competition among northeast Asian producers. Despite uninterrupted production, suppliers were burdened with logistics issues, like container shortages and sharp increases in freight costs.
Demand picked up in Q2 after the long Ramadan holiday, but did not recover pre-pandemic levels. A decline in downstream foam demand in summer due to reduced construction activity led to tepid polyols demand. Producers heard many enquiries, but customers were reluctant to make large purchases because of the general downtrend in activity.
Polyether polyols supply in the US remained tight during Q2 as producers struggled to rebuild stock levels following the severe supply shocks seen in Q1, when the February winter storm caused 100% of all US propylene oxide capacity to be taken offline. Lingering storm related issues kept polyol supplies tight and stock levels limited, with several producers remaining on force majeure.
Demand for polyether polyols remained strong during Q2 on persistent health in demand for durable consumer goods, resulting in stronger demand from construction, appliance and automotive applications. Shortages in polyol supplies limited overall consumption despite healthy buying interest from most key downstream sectors.
We offer the following regional Polyols analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Polyols marketplace.
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Polyols are a primary polyurethanes component. A polyol and an isocyanate react to form polyurethane.
Polyols are one of the components used to make polyurethanes, the other being an isocyanate. There are two main types of polyols: polyether polyols and polyester polyols.
Polyether polyols are the most widely used with the main applications being rigid and flexible polyurethane foams. Rigid foams are used mainly in insulation, refrigeration, packaging and construction while flexible foams have applications such as upholstery, mattresses and seats. Polyols can also be used in elastomers, adhesives, coatings and fibres.
Polyester polyols compete with polyether polyols but may be preferred in some rigid foam applications because of their low cost and improved flame retardant properties. They can also provide improved wear resistance, heat aging and chemical resistance in elastomers, coatings, sealants and adhesives.
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