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European Chemicals Market 2011

Industry Sector



22 February 2012


Mike King

Type of News


The European chemicals market is estimated to be valued at EUR449 billion with Germany representing the largest chemicals market out of the 27 member states. In 2010, 25% of total chemical production was sourced from Germany. In addition, to representing the largest production centre for chemicals, Germany has become the central distribution hub for transporting chemicals within the European Union. The B2B marketplaces, direct purchase and marketing via wholesalers or distributors are the major channels of distribution in the chemicals market.

During 2009, the shutdown of chemcial manufacturing capacities resulted in a local supply outage although chemicals production capacity has returned to full capacity in 2010 as the market recovers. In 2010 the economic recovery caused a 20% increase of annual sales in the German chemical industry which totalled EUR171 billion in 2010. Demand for specialities and fine chemicals were also strong in the first half of 2011. The increased cost of crude oil affected profit margins in the bulkchemicals sector, minimising returns. In 2011, the German chemicals market increased by 9%.

In Germany, the automotive market deteriorated in 2008 with the industry only starting to recover in 2010. The figures for the first half of 2011 were encouraging which has had a positive effect on the chemicals sector. In addition, for the first half of 2011, the demand for chemicals to treat metals also increased. The German pharmaceuticals market also recovered in 2011 with the market increasing by 4% during the first half of 2011. Imports of pharmaceutical chemicals from the United States increased by over 30% from EUR45,416 million in 2009 to EUR60,158 million in 2010.

The German biotechnology market reported annual sales of EUR2.4 billion in 2010 with about 400 biotechnology companies headquartered in Germany plus some 138 foreign companies with German operations. Substances generated by the white or industrial biotechnology sector have grown in importance over recent years. Products in this sector range from enzymes for detergents and industrial cleaning to bio-catalyzers for chemical synthesis or substance to treat wastes.

Germany also represents the largest market for nanotechnology in the European Union. A total of 750 German SMEs are active in the Germany nanotechnology market. In 2007 the Germany nanotechnology market was estimated to be valued at EUR33 billion which includes machinery and materials. The EU commission is facilitating local research in nanotechnology in Italy, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Slovak Republic, Poland and the Czech Republic.

The German construction market has been relatively stagnant over recent years although has started to recover in 2011. Construction chemicals demand is expected to report modest growth over the next few years.

The German cosmetics market has reported limited decreases in demand with growth in women perfumes being the strongest in the cosmetics sector of 2.2% in 2010. Decorative cosmetics sales also increased by 2% in 2010, with men perfumes increasing by 1.2% over the same period. In 2011, the local cosmetics market increased by 0.5% to 1.5%.

The German chemicals market is a good indicator of the state of the economy as these products all feed into the main manufacturing sectors.

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