EU PMMA prices jumped 27% from Q1 to Q2 on the back of high costs and tight supply, according to the latest GC Intelligence price assessments.
The considerable large price increase was not surprising given the recent relentless increase in costs and many supply disruptions.
While the polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) market in Europe has been tight, prices of the main feedstock methyl methacrylate (MMA) have gained consistently.
Moreover, the upward pressure on MMA has been getting stronger, owing to the blackouts in the US which has left many players there trying to source volumes from other regions.
The upstream market were already tight before the events in the US because of a lack of acetone. It is understood that acetone is being used to manufacture hand sanitiser. But even if this is not the main cause, it is another factor draining volumes from the PMMA market.
Another reason for the shortage of PMMA in Europe is the relative absence of imports from South Korea, which is the main trading partner. Tight availability in the region and high freight prices mean high import prices for European buyers. In April, such high offers, substantially above €2,000/mt, are not workable for many European buyers.
EU PMMA prices jumped also because of good demand, since almost all market segments are doing well. Construction and agriculture are sectors that are in high season, therefore good demand is expected during this time of the year.
Demand from the automotive industry, despite setbacks in production because of lack of raw materials, has been relatively healthy. Moreover, any reduction in demand because of external factors will mean car manufacturers will be catching up with the current loss in production later in the year.
Other market segments are also doing well, particularly the electrical and electronics market which has benefitted greatly during the pandemic. As people are staying at home, spending on household items has increased at the expense of spending on leisure activities.
The current positive trend in demand in Europe is expected to remain in place at least for the next few months.
With strong demand and supply disruptions along the value chain, it is possible that the current upward trend in prices will continue in Q3. What is more, with the slow vaccine rollout across Europe, pandemic-related disruptions will continue to keep the market tight and continue to support the upward pressure on PMMA prices.
While an ease in the upside is possible later in the year, a retreat from the highs for now remains highly unlikely at any point in 2021.