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Market Overview

The surfactants market is anticipated to register a CAGR of over 3% (in terms of volume) during the forecast period. One of the major factors driving the growth of the market is the growth of the Asia-Pacific personal care industry. The expanding application base of bio-based and speciality surfactants is further expected to add to the market.

  • Household soap and detergent is the largest application for surfactants in terms of volume. Surfactants are used as ingredients in a variety of products in the personal care segment, such as foaming agents, dispersants, emulsifiers, solubilizing agents, cleansers, and conditioners, among others. The personal care industry accounted for a healthy share of the global market, thereby augmenting the growth of the market.
  • Environmental issues address certain key concerns that include toxicity, biodegradability, eutrophication, and lifecycle analysis. One of the biggest challenges faced by the surfactants industry is the level of the environmental effect caused by the use of its various products, like detergents. This is likely to hinder the market growth.
  • As the demand for speciality surfactants is growing rapidly in various applications, the market for speciality surfactants is projected to increase drastically during the forecast period, thus providing opportunities for innovations in application-specific products.



Key Market Trends


Anionic Surfactants to Dominate the Market

  • Anionic surfactant belongs to the class of surface-active reagents, in which the head of the surfactant macromolecule remains negatively charged. This allows it to bind to impurities and particles suspended in the liquid.
  • Anionic surfactants account for approximately half of the total share of the surfactants market. Growing focus on environmental regulations is expected to increase the demand for anionic surfactants.
  • These surfactants are the most common type of surfactants found in low-moisture carpet cleaners, including encapsulation products and traditional shampoos, as they make a lot of foam when agitated, thus driving the product demand.
  • Anionic surfactants are also used in removing dirt and sebum, as they are characterized by a negatively charged hydrophilic polar group and enhances frizz and friction. This negative charge helps the surfactant molecules to interact with the both the soil particles and carbon fiber, which in-turn, lifts and suspends the soil in bubble-like arrangements known as micelles.
  • In terms of volume, the three most-used anionic surfactants are alpha-olefin sulfonates, linear alkylbenzene sulfonates, and alcohol ether sulfates.
  • High price and supply fluctuations of petrochemical products and reducing dependence on crude oil are likely to drive the demand for anionic surfactants.
  • Increasing demand for anionic surfactants in cosmetic products, such as skin care and hair care products in personal care application, owing to its superior characteristics, such as foaming, cleansing, thickening, solubilizing, emulsifying, antimicrobial effects, penetration enhancement, and other special effects, is expected to boost the market demand.
  • The current market demand for environment-friendly alternatives has led to a boost in the demand for bio-based anionic surfactants.



Asia-Pacific to Dominate the Market

  • In Asia-Pacific, China was the largest consumer of surfactants, and the country is likely to continue its dominance during the forecast period.
  • The market for soap, washing powder, and synthetic detergent industry in China has grown at an average annual rate of 13.2% in the past five years, due to increasing awareness about hygiene and development in liquid soap.
  • The food processing industry is expected to expand at a lucrative rate in the Chinese surfactants market, due to the increasing population, coupled with rising regulations for healthy food.
  • China is becoming the largest market in terms of cosmetics and skin care products, globally. Beauty sector in the country has witnessed a growth of around 5% in the past 10 years.
  • Moreover, India is the one of the largest producers of soaps in the world. The per capita consumption of toilet/bathing soap in the country is around 800 grams. Around 65% of the Indian population resides in rural areas, and the increasing disposable incomes and growth in rural markets are making the consumers shift to premium products.
  • This shift is expected to drive the market for surfactants in the country.



Competitive Landscape


The surfactants market is highly fragmented, with the top five companies accounting for almost 15% of the market. Key players in the surfactants market include 3M Company, Akzo Nobel NV, Arkema, Ashland, BASF SE, Clariant, Evonik Industries AG, Reliance Industries Ltd, and Solvay, among others.

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