The future of Polyurethane for NAFTA in 2019

The North American economy is changing, but thankfully the polyurethane industry is looking good, but it’s no time to sit back and relax. Work is still needed to ensure our industry is successful for the remainder of 2019 and beyond.

Between 2014 and 2016 the demand for polyurethane throughout NAFTA grew about 4.4% (and compounded annual growth was about 4.6%), and we look to be exceeding this number already. With 8 billion pounds in volume of polyurethane production during this period, this is the first time production has passed pre-crash levels of 2006 (when it was 7.6 billion pounds).

What’s fueling this rapid growth?
Consumer trends and demand is a major growth contributor. Polyurethane is a solution for many consumer demands these days including personalization of clothes to cars, urbanization, investments in personal technology and comfort, environmental awareness, and health and wellness. Direct-to-consumer sales are also a major contributor in the popularity of polyurethane (especially when it comes to polyurethane foam, like in mattresses).

Future challenges
Changes in trade agreements and tensions between countries may affect the price and popularity of polyurethane products. In June 2018 the US announced a trade tariff of 25% on polyurethane, PVC, and lubricating oils, so shipping companies may look at new trade and shipping routes to export and import their products. Either way, we can expect to see these products increase in price as they find new routes or pay increased tariffs.

As long as the demand exists, the industry will find ways to bring polyurethane products to consumers as cost-efficiently as possible. To talk about your next urethane project, contact the Harkness Industries team.

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