Indian polymer sector has witnessed a strong blow since the spread of pandemic as the demand destruction and logistic restrictions exacerbated a pessimistic industrial outlook. Several polymer producers had to slash their margins and sell the commodity at record breaking low prices. Sensing that inventory pile-up may be further hurting, the polymer producers had to reduce their plant operating rates. India's state controlled ONGC Petro Additions Ltd. (Opal) curtailed the operations at its high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) production lines in response to the hit trucking operations. State controlled refiner, MRPL also shut its 440KTPA PP plant located in Mangalore in late March after Indian government enforced lockdown to counter the spread of the coronavirus. Partially offsetting the weakness, the polymers associated with applications in medical devices like blood transfusion pipes, blood bags, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), etc. have shown some strength in demand.
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Polymer industry’s revenue loss is capped at INR 6400 cr. and job loss at 95-105 thousand employees. Demand for Polymers has dropped staggeringly resulting in losses. Polymer industry might see a surge in demand of Polypropylene Non-woven grade for masks and other hygiene applications. Moreover, Polymer demand in agricultural applications such as PVC pipes, fillings etc. have seen a modest growth despite all odds. However, overall performance of the industry is likely to continue below average. Polymer applications in plastics industry has been impacted due to low consumer sentiment on buying decisions. Demand for consumer durables seemed to have faded during the quarter, resulting in inventory pile up across multiple stages of the supply chain. Thwarted logistics movement has made it nearly impossible for flow of such inventory. Panicky behavior among consumers has forced them to hold all purchasing decisions thus impacting the demand for polymers.
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Housing and construction activities and automobile sector in the country, the greatest application areas of polymers, have come to a stand-still, following a plateauing in demand for plasticizers, Polypropylene, and Polycarbonate. Automotive sales in the country have dwindled and the automakers promptly shifted their production lines to manufacture masks and PPE kits instead, thus driving the demand for only specific polymers. Automotive sales have dropped by dropped by 20 per cent in the first quarter of FY21. Indian government has recently announced of a 20-lakh crore stimulus fiscal package to revive the spiraling economy. However, the auto sector needs additional intervening measures to pull it out of the crisis.
Following these micro-trends, polymer industry might see a minor improvement in the overall performance of the industry but for the impact to be tangible it might as well take a whole year for demand to germinate.
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