Transparency Market Research

Global Demand for Surfactants Continues to Rise Owing to Increasing Profitability of Biosurfactants

Transparency Market Research Report Added "Surfactants Market " to its database.


Albany, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/23/2015 -- Surfactants are used globally as detergents, emulsifiers, wetting and foaming agents, and dispersants. They are widely used due to their inherent properties of detergency and conditioning and as a result, the global surfactants market has witnessed a steady growth over the years thanks to rising demand.

Surfactants, by product, are classified into amphoteric, anionic, non-ionic, and cationic. On the basis of substrate, the market is bifurcated into synthetic-based surfactants and bio-based surfactants. Geographically, the global surfactants market covers four key regions: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of the World.

Poorly Biocompatible Synthetic Surfactants Suffer Downslide in Market Share

Synthetic surfactants are conventionally made from petroleum-based substrates and their application base is quite extensive. Synthetic surfactants are relatively more popular and are frequently used in areas such as food, crop protection, soap and detergents, cleaning, oilfield chemicals, personal care, plastics, pharmaceuticals, elastomers, textile, and industries such as pulp and paper, and paints and coatings. The demand for and consumption of synthetic surfactants has been steady so far and market analysis attributes the growth of this segment to its low cost and easy availability. The surge in offshore exploration activities and subsequent increase in the production of shale gas will result in higher availability of raw materials for the production of synthetic surfactants. This is expected to further boost the market.

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The synthetic surfactants market has, however, been met with raging criticism owing to its negative impact on the environment. Being poorly biocompatible and not readily biodegradable, synthetic surfactants have been held responsible for extensively polluting aquatic environments. For instance, when the use of synthetic detergents such as alkylbenzene sulfonates (ABS) was introduced in the 1960s, it caused large-scale pollution in many lakes and rivers. The persistent foaming brought about by ABS's poor biodegradability rendered the water bodies toxic.

Owing to this lack of environment sustainability, the demand for synthetic surfactants is likely to take a hit in the next few years.

Biosurfactants Market Receives Regulatory Shot in the Arm

With growing concerns regarding the use of synthetic-based surfactants, the switch to more environmentally friendly and biodegradable products was imminent. The significant environmental and health risks associated with synthetic surfactants have forced governments and various industries across the globe to rethink their usage and tighten biodegradability requirements for surfactants that are used for numerous applications.

The European Union (EU) has a well-established biosurfactants market and is the leader of the global market both in terms of consumption and production. There have been numerous regulations in the EU over the years evaluating and controlling the use of surfactants in different application areas. European regulations such as REACH have been ensuring that all commercially available detergents, soaps, and maintenance products are safe for the environment and end users. Under REACH, surfactant producers are required to assess the many risks of traditional and synthetic surfactants and produce new environmentally friendly and biodegradable surfactants. This has rendered a massive boost to the global biosurfactants market.

Europe is estimated to account for over 50% of the total revenue share for at least the next three years. The global biosurfactants market was valued at US$1,735.5 million in 2011 and is forecasted to grow to approximately US$2,200 million by 2018. Volume-wise, the biosurfactants segment is projected to reach an estimated 476,000 tons in 2018.

Apart from growing awareness created by regulatory bodies, there are many other factors that propel the use of biosurfactants: rise in awareness and demand for bio-based products among consumers, volatile crude oil prices, recovering economies, and higher expenditure on consumer goods.

However, the biosurfactants market is met with numerous challenges at different levels. The properties presented by bio-based surfactants are quite limited, which also limits their use in varied applications. Moreover, the legislative, registration, and manufacturing processes are more time-consuming, expensive, and complicated. This, coupled with the dearth of suppliers, has hindered the biosurfactants market.

Nevertheless, the many long-term benefits that biosurfactants present are likely to help the market overcome these challenges in the near future.

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