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ACC: “Record Decline” in US Specialty Chemical Markets

May 22, 2020

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that US specialty chemicals market volumes fell 11.3% in April, accelerating from a 4.0% decline in March and a 0.5% decline in February. Of the 28 specialty chemicals segments ACC monitors, none expanded in April. 

On a sequential basis, diffusion was 0%, the same as in March and down from 48% in February and 63% in January. The sharp decline in market volumes in April reflects the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and mandated government lockdowns on the US economy.

During April, overall specialty chemicals volumes were off 14.5% on a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis. Volumes stood at 95.6% of their average 2012 levels in April. This is equivalent to 6.51 billion pounds (2.95 million metric tons). 

On a Y/Y basis, there was a gain in only one market and functional specialty chemical segment – electronic chemicals. On a year-earlier basis, diffusion was 4%, a marked deterioration from earlier in the year.

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.

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