Rise in the price of naphtha and logistical problems: the glue and adhesives sector is suffering

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More expensive raw materials and a disorganized logistics chain: this is what the glue, adhesives and sealants industry is facing, used in construction, packaging and decoration. Like others, these manufacturers are not immune to the crisis.

Rising prices, delays in delivery, since the start of 2021, manufacturers who use solvents and binding products have not seen the end of the tunnel. Jérôme des Buttes, president of Aficam – which brings together manufacturers of glues, adhesives, sealants and expansive foams in France – thought that the summer would be more lenient, but today he must review his diagnosis and table on an improvement in the situation in the last quarter of the year alone.

The industry like others is in turmoil. First of all because of the increase in the price of naphtha, the material derived from petroleum which serves as a working base for petrochemicals. Naphtha was at its lowest a year ago, since its price has more than quadrupled to a relatively high level. This raw material cost is also and above all increased tenfold by the obstacles that accumulate in the supply chain.

China earns more locally and exports less

The pandemic has slowed down industrial production in many countries, so chemicals have become scarce. They are all the less available as the sector’s suppliers are all over the world, which complicates trade in view of the explosion in freight prices. ” Before, it was possible to transport only two pallets of solvents in a container, today the tension is such on the market that we have no choice, we have to pay for an entire container whether it is full or not. », Says Jérôme des Buttes.

The material is also becoming scarce because China, a large supplier, is currently selling more locally at the moment, so it is limiting its exports.

« The logistics chain, which was very fluid, has become very complicated to manage », Summarizes the president of Aficam who reminds that without industrial independence, without chemical raw material in sufficient quantity, innovation will lag.

Lack of sufficient supply, the price of binders and solvents on the rise

In one year, vinyl and acrylic binders have increased by 15% on average. The price of oxygenated solvents increased by more than 40% between the first quarters of 2020 and 2021. In the end, it is the price of adhesives, or even that of polyurethane foams, those found in insulation or mattresses that increase.

Green chemistry will tomorrow be an alternative to these products derived from petroleum derivatives. But this sector is still in its infancy, and as green as it is, it will also be dependent on global logistical hazards.

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