Drop in US specialty chemical market volume attributed to Coronavirus

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / (industryview)
© Getty Images / (industryview)

Related tags coronavirus Specialty chemicals Fragrance pigments Cosmetic ingredients

According to new data from the American Chemistry Council, overall specialty chemical market volume was down 5% in March. But for the most part, beauty ingredient suppliers are still doing a strong business.

On Monday, the America Chemistry Council (an industry trades association based in Washington DC and in existence since 1872) published a news item on their site with new data on how the specialty chemicals market is faring during the Coronavirus health and financial crisis.

“Twenty-five markets declined in March, with large market volume gains (1.0 percent and over) occurring in cosmetic additives and flavors and fragrances,” ​according to the ACC news item​.

Cosmetic chemicals as well as fragrances are performing well despite Coronavirus  

The ACC reports that from January 2020 to February 2020, cosmetic chemicals market volume was down .2% and up 1% from February 2020 to March 2020. Year-over-year volume for March, cosmetic chemicals were flat; and year-to-date for 2019 to 2020, up .6%.

Flavors and Fragrances did even better last month. From January to February this year, Flavors and Fragrances volume was down .2%. But from February to March of 2020 Flavors and Fragrances volume was up 1.4%, a figure that means year-over-year market volume for March was up 2.5% and year-to-date volume was up 2.8%.

As the ACC news item notes, “Chemistry directly touches over 96%of all manufactured goods; and trends in these specialty chemical segments provide a detailed view of trends in manufacturing. The data also shed light on how various consumer end-use markets are performing compared to others in the marketplace.”

Pigments market volume was down dramatically in March 2020

According to the ACC data, pigment transactions were down 13.8% in March 2020 from where they were in February of 2020, and down 19.8% compared to March 2019.

Pigments companies, unlike many specialty chemical makers, supply materials to numerous industries: printing; paper; packaging; building material; arts and crafts; digital ink; coatings for automotive, architectural, and other industries; as well as for color cosmetics.

The new ACC data doesn’t break market volume data down within the pigments category, but it’s quite possible that color cosmetics manufacturers were buying less pigments in March due to the Coronavirus crisis than they otherwise would have.

Commenting on the consumer sales end of the equation, Carrie Mellage, Vice President of Kline’s Consumer Products Practice, told the press in early April that “The cosmetics market will undoubtedly suffer in 2020 and in the years to come, but we expect it to recover within three to five years as it has in all past recessions.”

“Compared to other industries, the beauty market is fairly recession-proof, and its products will continue to be desired by consumers—both for meeting basic needs as well as an indulgence,”​ says Mellage.

“Historically,” she says, “the ‘lipstick theory’ has proven true, with lipsticks (during the four recessions from 1973 through 2001) and eye makeup (in the most recent 2008-2009 recession) performing exceptionally well during recessionary times.”



Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry​ as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

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