PCI BOPET Report Questions if Capacity is Enough for West


NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, UK | PCI Films Consulting has issued a review of the commodity bi-oriented polyester (BOPET) thin film market. The report says there has been a significant increase in film extrusion capacity in recent years and more planned for the next three years, but 2 million tonnes won't necessarily guarantee supplies to Western markets. 

Since the supply shortages of 2010, demand in the global thin (i.e., less than 50 micron in thickness) BOPET film market has grown by only 250,000 tonnes (5% p.a.), awaiting the expected global recovery. But this growth has been more than matched by the installation of 700,000 tonnes of new film extrusion capacity.

Over the next five years (2012–2017), the global market is expected to use another 900,000 tonnes of thin film, and suppliers are gearing up for this with investments in an additional 1.3 million tonnes of new capacity.

However, according to one of the report authors, Simon King, this will not be enough to meet demand in the West. “These headline numbers are misleading for two reasons,” says King. “Nameplate capacities are never realized, and a more realistic level of production from this new capacity could be as low as 75% of nameplate; and most of this new capacity is being installed in China, and Chinese film producers don't seem to be able to connect with European and North American customer needs. Many do not see them as realistic alternatives at present.”

Westernized regions such as Europe and North America continue to be major importers of BOPET thin films, the survey says, because their local industries are not large enough or competitive enough to meet local demand and regional producers appear to be doing little about it. PCI reports the running up of new capacity in Turkey and Poland and two new plants in the US but expects these will do little to absorb the current volume of imports into these regions, let alone meet future demand.

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