New polymer producers do not see opportunities to establish themselves in the near future, but the outlook for the long term is nevertheless positive. The continued substitution of conventional materials with plastic, ongoing housing and infrastructural developments and tourism due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup will present many opportunities and sustain market growth.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (chemicals.frost.com), South African Market for Commodity Plastics, finds that the market earned revenues of over $1.4 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach $1.9 billion in 2015. The sectors covered in this study include polypropylene (PP), linear-low-/low-density polyethylene (LL/LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polystyrene (PS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), plastic packaging and construction. The technologies covered are film, foam, fibre, injection and blow moulding and extrusion.
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"The packaging, construction and tourism industries sustain the demand for commodity plastics in South Africa," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Naasir Roomanay. "Many opportunities will arise as the market sees increased consumer demand and government spending on housing and infrastructural development, which has continued despite the global economic slowdown.
The plastic packaging industry is the primary end user of commodity plastics in South Africa. This industry is anticipated to grow due to increasing consumer demand triggered by tourism and the expanding middle class. Government spending on infrastructural developments will also sustain the demand for commodity plastics in the industrial sector for many years.
In addition, Frost & Sullivan expects consumer demand to rise during and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. An estimated 2 million visitors to the country are set to support significant growth, particularly in the plastics packaging industry.
Amongst the challenges in this industry, high technological barriers to entry are restraining local infrastructural growth. The high cost of equipment, together with the small market size, does not justify this investment.
"This makes its particularly challenging for smaller market participants to compete at the level of the already established producers," remarks Roomanay. "Further, South Africa's distance from high consumption markets restrains infrastructural development for exports."
While the South African commodity plastics market will only see opportunities for growth in the long term, many key sub-Saharan African offer present promising prospects.
"Suppliers should focus on emerging sub-Saharan African countries and penetrate into these markets," advises Roomanay. "Energy-related infrastructural developments are paving the way for industrial growth and commodity plastic suppliers should look into these emerging markets for expansion."
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South African Market for Commodity Plastics / M403