Water-borne coatings: Fountain of growth

Around the world, demand for water-borne coating systems continues to grow. Much of it comes from legal requirements, of course – but not all. There are growing customer calls for more eco-friendly systems that offer compelling technological solutions. What is the forecast for the market?

How is the market situation for water-borne coating solutions? Image: nicotombo Fotolia -

The most recent figures on the market for water-borne paints and coatings date from 2014 and 2015. Data obtained by Grand View Research (GVR), a market research company, show that the market for water-borne coating systems had a volume of 20.55 million tonnes in 2014. In 2015, it was worth just under EUR 54 billion, according to the findings of Markets and Markets (MaM) and Zion Market Research (ZMR).

Consumption forecast to exceed 32 million tonnes

The market prospects for these systems look good, given that the market researchers’ forecasts point unanimously to further growth. GVR’s researchers expect average annual growth of 6% through to 2022, with consumption set to rise to 32.71 million tonnes. MaM’s analyses only run to 2020. Nonetheless, its researchers predict that sales will grow by an average of more than 5% per year. That means they expect the market to grow to more than EUR 67 billion. The ZMR study, too, posits average annual growth of 5%. However, its forecasting period runs to 2021. By that time, it expects that global sales of water-borne coatings will have risen to more than EUR 70 billion. There would therefore appear to be close agreement between the figures offered by the market researchers.

At almost EUR 54 billion, water-borne coating systems account for a significant share, over 40%, of the total market for paints and coatings, which is currently estimated at over EUR 126 billion. The lion’s share of all water-borne systems is held by the largest single segment within the paints and coatings market, namely decorative and architectural paints. Water-bornes clearly dominate here, accounting for some 84% of all decorative and architectural paints worldwide. The percentage figures vary from region to region. In both Europe and North America, for example, market penetration is higher than this average value. However, in Asia-Pacific and South America, it is lower. This in turn means that there is still potential for water-borne coating systems to grow in these regions.

Decorative and architectural paints

Nevertheless, it must be noted that the shift to water-borne systems in decorative and architectural paints is already largely complete. Solvent-borne systems are bound to cede further ground to water-bornes but this will occur gradually as more and more legal requirements surrounding VOC contents are implemented. These requirements will bolster demand and a greater need for water-borne coatings, even though they are not technically superior to solvent-borne systems in all areas of application.

In particular, demand for water-borne systems in the future will be driven by the investments made in infrastructure and other construction activities in the growth markets of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

Low usage in industrial coatings

The share of water-borne systems in the industrial coatings segment is much lower than in its decorative and architectural paints counterpart. In the area of industrial maintenance and corrosion protection, for instance, water-bornes account for just one third. And this share is set to grow only very slightly in the next few years. The figure for marine paints is extremely low. In the general industrial coatings segment, their share is about 10% and is very unlikely to change in the coming years. Water-borne systems account for just 7% of total volumes there. Some forecasts estimate that the share will double over the next three to four years on the back of recent advances in research and development.

GVR has identified automotive OEM coatings as another growth segment. At present, water-borne systems make up half of the market for these coatings. The market researchers at GVR deem it to be the fastest-growing segment, and reckon that average annual growth will be 8.1% through to 2022. While this growth rate may sound a little too optimistic, the trend is likely to be right. MaM also points to significant growth potential in the automotive industry.

By Damir Gagro. The complete article is part of the November issue of the European Coatings Journal.

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