Europe IPA prices at historic high on demand for sanitising products

Anne-Sophie Briant-Vaghela

11-Mar-2020

LONDON (ICIS)–Prices on the European isopropanol (IPA) market have soared, reaching a historic high, as demand is outstripping supply due to consumers’ panic buying hand gels and other sanitising products amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The buying has impacted both the technical and cosmetic/pharmaceutical grades, with increases of €900/tonne on the low end for each.

The high end of the cosmetic/pharmaceutical range spiked by €1,070/tonne, while technical grade IPA shot up by €1,100/tonne versus the previous week.

Prices for this week are as follows:

IPA Technical: €1,800-2,200/tonne, up 100% on last week

IPA Cosmetic/Pharmaceutical: €2,100-2,400/tonne, up 78%

Just four weeks ago, technical prices stood at €795-835/tonne, and cosmetic/pharmaceutical grade was valued at €1,025-1,065/tonne.

Availability is tight and demand has surged.

“Currently, of course, a certain turmoil around IPA, which is having to do with availability and clearly elevated demand probably from producing hand gels. People are in desperate need of molecules,” a distributor said.
 “Not every demand can be covered,” it added.

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The increases come at a time when most markets see price decreases due to bearish oil prices and generally weak global demand for chemicals.

Prices were heard in a much wider range than this week’s assessment, with the bulk of trade still heading higher by the end of the trading week.

For cosmetic/pharmaceutical grade, prices as low as €1,250/tonne and as high as €2,600/tonne were heard, but not considered representative.

For technical grade, prices as low as €1,350/tonne and as high as €4,000/tonne were heard, but also considered unrepresentative.

Talk from a major importer that a shipment was on its way and arriving soon was received with much scepticism by the majority of participants, but not all.

A delayed IPA shipment is now due to arrive around 20-25 March, but the volume on-board is expected to be very limited. Shipments from Asia were heard expected at the end of April. Prices are on a free delivered (FD) NWE (northwest Europe) basis.
Europe IPA prices since 2012

IPA is a solvent used in many industrial and consumer products and as an extractant. Applications include cosmetics, personal care products, de-icers, paints and resins, pharmaceuticals and inks and adhesives.

Front page picture: Empty hand sanitizers shelves in the UK, with notices to customers limiting the amount they can buy to two per person
Source: Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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