The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that US specialty chemicals market volumes increased 1.2% in October, up from a revised 0.1% gain in September and 1.1% gain in August.
Of the 28 specialty chemical segments that ACC monitors, 25 expanded in October, up from nine in September. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 89%, up from 34% in September. Of the 25 segments showing growth in October, 18 featured gains of 1% or more.
During October, overall specialty chemicals volumes were off 6.5% on a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, an improvement from September. Volumes stood at 104.4% of their average 2012 levels in October. This is equivalent to 7.11 billion lb. On a Y/Y basis, five chemical segments showed gains: Cosmetic additives, electronic chemicals, flavors and fragrances, plastic compounding, and water management chemicals. On a year-earlier basis, diffusion was 20% in October, an improvement from 11% in September.
Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of the unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They can be individual molecules or mixtures of molecules, known as formulations. The physical and chemical characteristics of the single molecule or mixtures along with the composition of the mixtures influence the performance end product. Individual market sectors that rely on such products include automobile, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics, and food, among others.
Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals. Specialties may only have one or two uses, whereas commodities may have multiple or different applications for each chemical. Commodity chemicals comprise most of the production volume in the global marketplace, while specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity in commerce at any given time and are relatively high value, with greater market growth rates.