October 24, 2020

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ACC: U.S. specialty chemical market volumes expand in July
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U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes rebounded by 1.9% in July 2020, with the continued recovery in the U.S. economy, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC). However, the July volume gains were lower than the revised 4.6% gain reported in June 2020, and the revised 0.1% decline in May 2020. In April 2020, the ACC reported a record 12.4% decline in U.S. specialty chemicals market volume. 

Of the 28 specialty chemical segments that ACC monitors, 25 expanded in July 2020, an improvement from the expansion in 24 segments in June and the decline across all segments in April. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 91% in July 2020, an improvement from 89% in June and 0% in April. Of the 25 segments that showed growth in July 2020, 17 featured gains of 1.0% or more.

During July 2020, overall specialty chemicals volumes were down by 9.1% on a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, an improvement from the 11.7% the previous month. Volumes stood at 101.0% of their average 2012 levels in July 2020. This is equivalent to 6.88 billion pounds (3.12 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, gains were seen in only three specialty chemical segments: cosmetic additives, electronic chemicals, and flavors and fragrances. On a Y/Y basis, diffusion was 11% in July 2020, still much worse than at the start of the year.

Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of the unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They can be individual molecules or mixtures of molecules, known as formulations. The physical and chemical characteristics of the single molecule or mixtures along with the composition of the mixtures influence the performance end product. Individual market sectors that rely on such products include automobile, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food, among others.

Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals. Specialties may only have one or two uses, whereas commodities may have multiple or different applications for each chemical. Commodity chemicals comprise most of the production volume in the global marketplace, while specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity in commerce at any given time and are relatively high value, with greater market growth rates.

This data set is the only timely source of market trends for 28 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Chemistry directly touches more than 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.

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