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BASF OVERHAULS ULTRAFORM TRADE
distribution

BASF Overhauls Ultraform Trade: Starting October 1, 2023, BASF will fundamentally reshape its European operations by modifying the distribution tactics for Ultraform (POM).

The firm will hand over sales duties to its reliable commerce associates, ALBIS and Ultrapolymers Group.

This significant adjustment in the distribution model doesn’t diminish Ultraform’s standing within BASF’s assortment. Ultraform persists as an essential element of BASF’s engineering plastics.

Nonetheless, BASF will keep the research and development processes internal.

Such a strategy guarantees that patrons persistently profit from BASF’s pioneering solutions and comprehensive knowledge, specifically in solving technical complexities.

Ultraform is synonymous with BASF’s line of polyoxymethylene offerings.

These adaptable engineering plastics, tailored for durable components, are apt for a broad spectrum of uses, from automobile fabrication to healthcare technology and plant and mechanical engineering.

Even as BASF Overhauls Ultraform Trade, it remains committed to supplying superior materials to its varied clientele.

POM PRICES SLIDE TO NEW LOWS
POM gears

POM prices slide to new lows in November in Europe, falling from the highs set when energy costs spiked to record levels.

Buyers experienced hefty increases in the past few months, especially when gas prices traded above €300/MWh in August.

As polyoxymethylene (POM) is one of the most energy intensive among engineering polymers, sellers asked north of €1000/mt during the summer.

However, the slide in gas prices and intense competition from imports, coupled with low demand in Europe has led to lower offers.

What is more, sellers happarently withdrew the surcharges announced to offset the rise in energy costs.

However, while the lower gas prices puts players in a better position, energy costs remain at levels multiple times higher than normal times.

Gas prices continue to show rather wild swings but for the past month settled at around €115/MWh.

Before the rally started in the second half of 2021, prices had been stable for years at around €20/MWh.

The persistent high gas values, which will likely continue for the foreseeable future, should also prevent European POM prices from retreating towards their historical long term trend.

EU CONSUMER CONFIDENCE REACHES RECORD LOW

EU consumer confidence reaches the lowest ever recorded level in July, according to the latest data from the European Commission.

The new numbers show a decrease of 3 percentage points for the EU and 3.2 percentage points for the Euro Area.

The new levels surpass the lowest point reached during the beginning of the pandemic, raising fears of a major economic contraction.

The polymer industry has been feeling a considerable pressure on demand which is to do with a multitude of reasons.

But this latest reading reinforces the view that consumer jitters over inflation, war, and a looming energy crisis are additional major factors slowing down demand for polymers.

POLYMER MARKETS CONTINUED TO WEAKEN IN JULY
falling trend

Polymer markets continued to weaken substantially in July in Europe on the back of falling demand.

This was making price negotiations difficult as many producers continued to face increasing costs.

Demand for most polymers has been getting weaker since the beginning of the second quarter.

Activity has remained soft in automotive but has recently started to fall in other markets. Some of these include appliances and even construction.

The decrease in demand is attributed to many factors. Some of these include supply chain disruptions, seasonality, and high raw material prices. But most probably also inflationary pressures.

This weakness will most probably continue for the rest of the summer, and likely for the rest of the year.

In some markets, the fall in demand has been rather drastic, resulting in players having to stop production lines.

Polypropylene (PP) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) are some of the worst-hit markets, also because of competitive imports.

With the relentless increases in energy prices, Europe continues to lose competitiveness across entire supply chains, which is probably weakening demand further.

Meanwhile, during this time of the year activity slows down because of the summer, and this has certainly accentuated the fall in demand in some sectors.

There were markets that were still performing relatively well, such as electrical and electronics and packaging. However, this was not enough to offset the losses in other markets.

As demand continues to weaken amid rising inflation, the situation could become much worse for all players during the winter when there is a greater risk of a spike in energy costs.

DEMAND IS DECREASING SUBSTANTIALLY IN EUROPE
Decrease graph

Demand is decreasing substantially in Europe in June across most polymer markets amid a multitude of pressures. With energy prices remaining firm, producers’ margins could suffer a major squeeze.

Prices have continued to go up after the onset of war. But the slowdown in demand because of inflationary pressures and competitive imports from regions with lower energy costs are causing a dramatic fall in demand in Europe.

Moreover, buyers are struggling to pass on the continuous increases in costs amid supply chain disruptions.

In this market environment, buyers are destocking, probably also those volumes accumulated becasuse of panic after the war started.

An element of seasonal slowdown ahead of the summer is probably also adding downward pressure on demand.

The decreases in demand are quite substantial, up to 40% in the case of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). However, other markets are also slowing down, such as polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), nylon (PA6/PA66), and polycarbonate (PC).

There are downstream markets that are still holding up well, such as electrical and electronics and construciton. But players in these markets are also beginning to experience signs of weakness.

While it is too early to see this as the start of a a major trend, prices could continue to soften during the summer months.

And as energy costs remain firm and threaten to spike again, prices will most probably fail to fall back towards their long term trend. But for now sharp downward corrections appear to be unavoidable in June.

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