M-Xylene Market Overview
The global m-xylene market was valued at $1,036.6 million in 2017 and is projected to reach $1,341.7 million by 2023, witnessing a CAGR of 4.4% during the forecast period. The market growth is mainly driven by factors such as increasing consumption of isophthalic acid and rising demand for adhesives and sealants in various end-use industries.
Xylene is a colorless, volatile liquid hydrocarbon obtained from wood, coal, and petroleum. M-xylene is an isomer of ortho-xylene and para-xylene. It is an aromatic hydrocarbon, with two methyl substituents attached at the meta positions of the benzene ring. It is primarily used in the production of isophthalic acid. 1,3-Dimethylbenzene, 1,3-xylene, m-xylol, and m-dimethylbenzene are some other names of the chemical.
GLOBAL M-XYLENE MARKET, BY APPLICATION, KILOTONS (2013-2023)
Based on application, the m-xylene market has been categorized into isophthalic acid production; 2,4-xylidine and 2,6-xylidine production; solvent; and others. The “others” category includes the use of m-xylol in 2,4-dimethylbenzophenone production, in chemical syntheses, and as an intermediate in dyes and resins. Isophthalic acid production was the largest application area of m-xylol and accounted for more than 80.0% market revenue in 2017. Majority of the chemical produced in the market is used in the production of isophthalic acid. Thus, the growing demand for pure isophthalic acid in the polymer and plastics industries is driving the market growth, globally.
Geographically, Asia-Pacific (APAC) is the fastest-growing market for m-xylol. The m-xylene market in the APAC region is expected to witness a CAGR of 4.7% during the forecast period. This can be attributed to the growing consumption of m-xylol in the automotive, aerospace, and packaging industries. Additionally, the expanding construction industry of China and South Korea is driving the adoption of new coating resins and formulations. As m-xylol is widely used as a solvent in paints and coatings, the increasing demand for these formulations is expected to continue boosting the market growth of the chemical in the region.
M-Xylene Market Dynamics
Over the years, a large number of companies engaged in the production of petrochemicals have established and expanded their production base near oil-producing regions, particularly in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. However, of late, significant expansion has been witnessed in the petrochemical sector of the APAC region. The trend has positively impacted the production of m-xylol, as it is one of the key petrochemicals used in the production of polymers, isophthalic acid, and plastics.
The production of m-xylene is expected to continue rising at a notable pace in the APAC region owing to the large-scale-investment plans by leading players. For instance, in 2017, Lotte Chemical Corporation announced its decision to invest $326.4 million to double the production of m-xylol at its plants in Ulsan and Yeosu, South Korea, by 2019. Hence, with growing investments, a major trend is being witnessed in terms of capacity expansion in the m-xylene market of the region.
Isophthalic acid is an organic compound used in a large number of applications, including the production of unsaturated polyester resins, alkyd resins, inks, and reinforced plastics. The demand for plastic is driven by packaging products, and building and construction activities. According to GRID-Arendal, an organization affiliated with the United Nations, approximately 400.0 million tons of plastic was produced in 2017. The high production of plastic requires the use of isophthalic acid. Since m-xylol is used as a key raw material in the production of isophthalic acid, the m-xylene market will continue to benefit from the rising consumption of isophthalic acid.
Besides, the demand for paints and coatings has considerably increased globally, owing to their extensive usage in construction and infrastructure projects. Over the years, the U.S., China, India, and Eastern Europe have witnessed tremendous increase in construction activities. This has resulted in the large-scale construction of projects such as hotels, apartments, offices, retail centers, and civic infrastructure. This growth in the construction industry is directly impacting the consumption of paints and coatings. Since m-xylene is widely used as a solvent in the production of paints and coatings, the rising demand for these is expected to continue driving the growth of the m-xylene market.
Exposure to m-xylol may occur through direct inhalation, eye or skin contact, or ingestion. This chemical exposure is detrimental to human health, as it may lead to both acute and chronic health problems. However, the severity of health problem may vary, depending upon the amount and duration of exposure to the chemical. Exposure to m-xylol may lead to conditions like headache, vomiting, and nausea. Therefore, m-xylol, for any sort of industrial or commercial application, is used in a highly controlled environment and requires utmost caution. Hence, such health risks continue to hinder the growth of the m-xylene market.
M-Xylene Market Competitive Landscape
Some of the major players operating in the global m-xylene market are Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company Inc., Lotte Chemical Corporation, CEPSA, and Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corporation.