Its non-cyclical and stable behaviour has made it extremely popular with cosmetic and personal care manufacturers, which, according to a new chemicals and materials report from Frost & Sullivan, means that manufacturers should be gearing up towards the trends and dynamics of this fast-evolving industry.
The market for cellulose ether is currently estimated to be valued at $82m, a figure that Frost & Sullivan estimates will reach $115.4 m by 2013 if the current market growth is sustained.
Cellolose ethers are used in a cross-section of peronsal care products, for applications as wide ranging as thickening, binding and surface active properties, to film forming, suspension aids, lubricants and lather enhancers.
"Cellulose ethers contribute a wide range of properties to personal care products," said Frost & Sullivan research analyst Ms. Niranjana. "Functioning primarily as rheology modifiers, ethers can be used for enhanced conditioning and can also form part of the delivery system of other active ingredients. The cellulose backbone can be modified with a range of substitute groups, enabling the final properties to be customised to end-user needs."
In its report on the category, Frost & Sullivan says that as demand for the chemical expands within the personal care sector, chemical manufacturers will have to clue themselves into what type of products they should be developing formulas for and what type of functionality will be required.
In Europe that is likely to be high growth categories, such as men's grooming and sun care, where increasing functional and complex formulations are being launched on the market at a fast growing rate.
But whereas Europe was once a developing hub for the manufacturer of cellulose esther, that is now starting to change, as the market is being challenged by cheaper, good quality alternatives from Asia.
Frost & Sullivan says that in response to this European chemical companies are responding by adjusting their product lines to ensure enhanced product portfolios and customer service, although the price challenge is where such companies often struggles.
"The highly competitive personal care market is experiencing severe price-pressures," said Ms. Niranjana. "This is being compounded by end-user demands for more cost-effective products and by cheap equivalents produced by super markets."
One solution that many European chemical companies may be able to hold their own is the development of multifunctional ingredients than can add maximum benefits for formulators, as well as helping to keep costs down.To overcoming this challenge such companies will have to develop of multi-functional and highly stable ingredients that can add maximum benefit to the final formulation, while allowing formulators to gain better margins.
"Product formulators should launch new products to meet the needs of their customers; as the consumers become increasingly savvy about the products they purchase, it is crucial to impress them," adds Ms. Niranjana. "Awareness of the chemical and geographical demands of the product formulator is also indispensable to success, particularly since the personal products industry has a consolidated customer base."
Further information about aspects of the cellulose ethers market are contained in the Frost & Sullivan European Market for Cellulose Ethers in Personal Care report, which is part of the information provider's Chemicals and Materials subsription.