Natural grade POM prices edged €50/tonne higher during the final quarter of last year. Producers did not announce any fresh price rises in Q4 because of stable feedstock costs. They focused most of their attention on implementing previously announced price hikes and ‘cleaning-up' at the lower end of the price scale.
Producers differed in their ability to supply material, but availability generally tightened during the last quarter. One producer carried out a more lengthy annual maintenance programme than was originally anticipated while Ticona had to put customers on allocation ahead of a plant relocation. Supplies of imported material diminished as a result of higher Asian prices and the strength of the euro.
POM producers are expected to announce planned price rises during Q1. They point to the sharp increase in methanol and energy costs towards the end of last year, improving demand and lower imports.
PMMA producers announced planned price hikes of up to €250/tonne last September to cover the rise in acrylate costs. They were however only partially successful in implementing their calls for higher prices. Some customers on low-priced contracts that were up for renewal later in the year faced sizeable increases, but generally POM prices edged only around €50/tonne higher during Q4.
POM demand was good with the automotive sector leading the way. Supply, on the other hand, was tight despite European POM plants working at full capacity. A lot of material is being shipped to China where demand is booming.
POM producers are determined to push through substantial price increases during Q1 citing rising raw material costs and a need to improve margins.