The market for surfactants in Brazil and Argentina is showing signs of maturity, but still retains the potential for significant growth, a new market report points out.
According to the chemicals research division of Frost & Sullivan, it is the personal and home care markets that are particularly driving growth in these two markets, as growing middle class consumer spending power fuels sales volumes growth.
The analysis shows that the market for surfactants in the two countries was valued at approximately $1.44bn in 2012, while the research company predicts that growth will continue over the next few years, to reach a projected value of $1.96bn by the year 2018.
Anionic surfactants lead the way, but demand for cationic is growing
"Anionic surfactants account for nearly 50 percent of the total market in Brazil and Argentina as it is heavily utilized in the personal and household care segments," said Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials and Food Industry Analyst Hernán Cavarra.
"The cationic surfactants segment will expand the fastest," she added. Cationic surfactants are used to lower the surface tension between two ingredients, and are becoming increasingly important as cosmetic and personal care formulations grow in complexity.
However, the report also points out that the demand for this type of ingredient is not necessarily translating into an increased bottom line for suppliers, as higher manufacturing costs and the need to maintain competitive pricing can put a strain on profits.
Demand for eco-friendly surfactants
Likewise, surfactant suppliers are also finding themselves under increasing pressure to come up with sustainable and environmentally friendly surfactant solutions, in keeping with consumer demand and pressure for eco-friendly products.
"Manufacturers are responding to this trend by eliminating alkylphenol ethoxylates and nonylphenol ethoxylates from their formulations and replacing them with natural, renewable, oleo-based products such as methyl ester sulfates from soy, palm oil or seed oil-based alcohol ethoxylates," said Cavarra.
"More focus on research and development to add value to products will contribute to market growth."