European styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) prices have increased €20/tonne for February on the back of the €17/tonne increase in the feedstock styrene monthly contract, buyers and sellers confirmed on 18 February.
Producers managed to implement a rise slightly above that of the monomer cost, with one producer seeing its run of good demand from the second half of last year continue into February which is ahead of forecast, and March looking strong. A second producer, which concluded its business at a €20/tonne increase across all grades, said demand was normal for February, while a third said its demand levels were not as strong as it had hoped.
The third producer had tried to implement an increase of €30/tonne but was not able to achieve this because of the lower demand levels it experienced. “The [February] request was about the styrene increase, €20-30/tonne that is the request. But it’s not so easy [to achieve]. €20/tonne is more average,” the producer said.
Cheaper Asian imports from South Korea could have added to the pressure on European producers to keep price rises to a minimum. A couple of buyers were able to negotiate increases of €15/tonne from some suppliers because of the availability of cheaper Asian material, together with excess volumes available from European suppliers.
“At the moment [producers] are good in volumes and there is still a lot [of material] coming in from Asia, so they [producers] rather probably stay a little lower,” a distributor said of its price discussions for February.
Demand from the buy side was not as strong, according to one European producer. Demand levels have been stable throughout February, a distributor said. “Demand [is] more than flat and [producers faced] price pressure from Asia,” a distributor said, with a second distributor adding: “Demand is a little bit lower than expected.”