Global Foamed Plastic Insulation

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Insulation

Global demand for foamed plastic insulation is forecast to rise 4.0% per year to 9.1 million metric tons, valued at $29.6 billion, in 2025. Demand will be driven by:

  • a global rebound in construction activity from the low levels experienced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • advances in nonresidential building construction, particularly in the Asia/Pacific region
  • increasingly stringent energy efficiency and fire safety policies throughout the world, which often call for greater insulation usage in buildings
  • rising production of motor vehicles, appliances, aerospace equipment, HVAC equipment, and industrial equipment

However, below average building construction outlooks in the US and Japan, as well as continued declines in single-family housing construction in China, will provide a check on even faster gains.

Rising Prices & Short Supply Leading to Pent Up Demand in Appliance Market

In 2020, demand for freezers and refrigerators – which had been nearing a cyclical peak – rose in many developed countries as consumers around the world sought more storage for nonperishable foods, first to stockpile and later to reduce the frequency of shopping trips. Additionally, demand in the US rose along with home improvement spending, as consumers used their disposable income to upgrade their living spaces.

However, supplies of appliances were unable to meet demand in 2020 and into 2021, as production was shut down in many parts of the world (particularly China, which continues to pursue a zero-COVID policy). Disrupted supply chains and rising prices for appliances (due in part to extruded polystyrene price increases) caused consumers to further delay sales, either voluntarily or because they were unable to find products to purchase. Appliance demand in the nonresidential market also grew, as expanding food delivery services, curbside grocery pickup programs, and ongoing concerns over the availability of certain food items caused retailers and restaurants to look to invest in cold storage.

As a result, demand for insulation used in appliance manufacturing will be strong through 2025, as pent up demand in the early part of the forecast period is released.

Developing Countries – Particularly India – Will Offer the Best Growth Opportunities

The sizable stock of substandard housing units in the Asia/Pacific and Africa/Mideast regions – which together account for over 75% of the world’s population – presents a significant growth opportunity for greater use of foamed plastic insulation. Governments in a number of developing countries in these areas are working to improve housing quality, including through the adoption of minimum insulation requirements. Additionally, foamed plastic insulation sales in these countries will be driven by:

  • improving income levels and standards of living in developing countries
  • rural-to-urban migration, leading to increased construction in urban areas, where buildings generally use more insulation than those in rural areas
  • rapidly expanding nonresidential building construction markets

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