Europe PET spot shortage may continue through the first quarter

Source: ICIS News

2018/02/23

PET bottles 1

LONDON (ICIS)--The shortage of spot polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in Europe will continue through to the end of the first quarter or into the second quarter, buyers and sellers said on Friday.

“Even if the Asian price comes down by next week… it will be shipped by the second half of April only... and will arrive the second half of May, so for June production. I don’t foresee in the European market much of a change downward before the end of May,” a buyer said.

Domestic spot availability is curtailed due to planned shutdowns, pressure to supply contracted volumes and the absence of competitive import alternatives.

“At the moment, import is not an option and they haven’t bought because they didn’t think the levels were attractive,” a reseller said.

The Americas remain a healthy alternative for traditional importers to Europe, for example, and Asia is being serviced more by its own suppliers, due to antidumping-related developments.

The result has been a rapid increase in the price of PET, notwithstanding production costs, which also rose from January to February.

In the background there are rumblings regarding the lead up to the peak PET bottling season in Europe.

Once the bottlers show a heightened interest in buying more PET, the market situation could become even more interesting.

“They [the bottlers] held out because prices were too high compared with what they wanted. But now…they will have to buy,” a buyer said.

It seemed to be supply more than demand or raw material costs that was the focus until now, when customers are considering buying spot once more and are faced with increasing price offers.

“Last summer there were a lot of problems with resin [availability]… and some customers couldn't buy the preforms, and they got so scared that now they make stocks a lot earlier than usual,” a PET buyer said.

In recent weeks, suppliers with lingering spot availability have benefitted from customers’ hesitation.

Some sellers though already said they are sold out for March, so at this stage a reduction in the price of PET seems unlikely.

PET is used in fibres for clothing, containers and bottles for liquids and foods, thermoforming for manufacturing, and in combination with glass fibre for engineering resins.

Picture source: imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Focus article by Caroline Murray