U.S. Chemical Industry Mid-Year Outlook Reveals Demand Growth

Chemical sales are rebounding as the nation starts reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic, but full recovery may take until 2023, according to an economist with the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

Pent-up demand during the pandemic is fueling growth in durable goods like cars and appliances and propelling a corresponding increase in chemical sales, said the ACC’s chief economist Dr. Thomas Kevin Swift. The ACC is a trade council for 150 U.S. chemical companies and businesses.

With the economy reopening and a rebound in world trade, Swift expects to see gains in all the performance metrics this year for the sector, he said during a June 30 webinar for chemical processing engineers, managers and staff.

While chemicals tied to manufacturing and industrial activity like auto production are recovering quickly, sales of basic chemicals, which are made in large quantities and go into products for industrial and consumer use, are rebounding at a lesser pace, said Swift. He expects growth to continue into 2022 and beyond.

Demand for plastic virgin resins remains strong  and will increase incrementally the next five years.

Swift said he expects supply chain shortages to last at least into the fall. These challenges are pushing prices up and are interfering with full recovery, though chemical trade worldwide is returning more quickly than the ACC expected.

The United States is also still very competitive in the chemical sector when compared to the rest of the world, particularly given its well trained and highly productive labor force, Swift said.

To read Dr. Swift’s presentation on the state of the chemical industry, go HERE.

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