Increasing lactic acid demand for manufacturing poly lactic acid (PLA) is expected to fuel the global lactic acid market growth over the next five years. Lactic acid has gained significant importance recently. It is a colorless syrup liquid soluble in alcohol and water. The product is manufactured by fermentation of carbohydrates in excess calcium carbonate presence. Raw materials for lactic acid manufacturing process include sugar beet, corn, sugarcane and tapioca. Asia has the abundant quantity of such raw materials owing to huge production of carbohydrates particularly sugarcane. This is expected to help lactic acid producers to cut down their manufacturing cost due to low raw material prices as compared to other regions.
Growing awareness regarding eco-friendly products and demand for green products in packaging industries is anticipated to boost the global PLA market growth over the next five years. PLA is compostable and biodegradable as derived from natural sources, which is anticipated to drive the global PLA market over the next five years. Volatile crude oil prices are expected to reduce reliance on petrochemicals and are anticipated to foster the global PLA market growth. Shift towards bioplastics owing to changing consumer and industries preference is projected to witness significant growth over the foreseeable future. PLA faces drawbacks due to less efficient performance as compared to other conventional plastics are expected to hinder the market. Another key challenge is vulnerability with rising temperature which is expected to limit its applications in several areas such as utility packaging. However, many key participants are investing in R&D to enhance the product’s heat resistant property which is projected to generate immense opportunities for the PLA market.
Industrial were the largest application segment accounting for over 45% of the total market in 2013. This segment is expected to dominant the market and fastest growing segment over the forecast period owing to increasing usage in lactate solvents and biodegradable polymers. Lactic acid is also used in manufacturing personal care products such as anti-wrinkle, anti-acne, skin lightening and anti-aging. Growing personal care products demand is also anticipated to fuel the global lactic acid market over the next five years. Packaging was the dominant application market accounting for over 60% of the total demand in 2013. PLA manufactured bottles comprise properties such as disposable, durable, glossy and transparency, which gained importance in the market in the recent past. The product is compostable and does not emit toxic gases during decomposition. This is expected to gain more applications in the market. Textile application market is anticipated to be the fastest growing segment over the next five years.
North America was the largest lactic acid market accounting for over 35% of the global demand and is expected to be the dominant market in the near future. Growing demand for the product in the application segment market is the key factor for the market growth. Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the fastest growing lactic acid market over the forecast period owing to increasing demand for biodegradable polymers and abundant availability of raw materials. Europe dominated the PLA market accounting for over 37% of the total demand in 2013 and is expected to remain dominant in the near future. Growing demand in packaging industries and favorable regulatory scenario for bio-based products are the driving forces for the PLA market growth over the next five years.
The global market is concentrated in nature with limited major players include BASF, Galactic, Synbra, Purac, NatureWorks LLC and Pyramid Bioplastics. Capacity expansion and product innovations are the major implemented strategies by the participants to gain the market share. Favorable government scenario regarding bio-based products has supported them to diversify the business. Technology development to in process to build a high heat resistant PLA is expected to create ample opportunities in the market by replacing conventional plastics.
Research Support Specialist, USA