Developing markets drive demand for specialty silica

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Colgate-palmolive

Specialty silica demand will grow significantly in the next four years, driven mainly be demand in developing countries such as China, a Freedonia report says.

Annual demand should reach 254,000 metric tons by 2014, accounting for a rise of 4.6 per cent a year, mainly triggered by the increasing penetration of personal care products such as toothpaste in the developing markets.

On a geographic basis the growth will be mainly driven by the Asia-Pacific region, where there continues to be a big rise in personal income in many countries, while demand in more developed markets such as Western Europe and North America will be more modest.

The market researcher says that the ingredient is likely to remain a staple for deodorant, powder, body scrub, cream, lotion and lipstick formulations, but will remain particularly important for toothpaste and other oral care applications as it is used as a base ingredient.

Precipitated silica an important oral care thickner

The Freedonia report highlights that precipitated silica remains the most important thickener or abrasive polishing and cleaning agent used in toothpaste formulations, largely replacing the previously commonly used silica gel.

Silica is continuing to gain share over other toothpaste abrasives because it is said to be more compatible with fluoride and can be easily reformulated as a gel.

Growth in demand for the ingredient is most likely to be derived from high-performance toothpastes that treat specific oral care problems such as discoloration, tartar and plaque, while dental floss and dental gum are growing niches, the report said.

Currently all the major global toothpaste suppliers - including Colgate Palmolive, Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline - are battling it out to increase market share, and in turn silica suppliers are trying to increase the cleaning and polishing power of their formulations in an effort to give the toothpaste makers added market clout.

Opportunities in skin care and face scrubs

But despite the fact that an estimated 80 per cent of the total annual use of silica will be for the manufacture of oral care products, Freedonia says that significant opportunities remain to extend its use into other personal care applications, including skin care and facial scrubs.

Primarily, silica is used as a thickening agent in these types of formulas, but significant growth in key niches of the skin care market is expected to drive demand beyond average growth.

Ultimately Freedonia believes that the safe, non-volatile and non controversial image of silicas is expected to lead to stable growth that will be driven by the developing market and specific growth niches worldwide.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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