Growth in Antimicrobials Boosted by the Fear Factor

Antimicrobials act as antibacterial and antifungal agents and are therefore used in a wide range of products from skin care to laundry care. Global demand for these ingredients exceeded 166,000 tonnes in 2011, posting a 3% CAGR over 2006-2011. Volumes are forecast to grow at a similar rate to 2016. Some of this growth is being fuelled by consumer concerns about health and hygiene, particularly as a consequence of various health scares in recent years. Swine flu, bird flu and numerous food poisoning cases have dominated the news headlines in the past, and these have driven demand for antibacterial products. Whether these products can actually eliminate these harmful germs and bacteria is up for debate, but nevertheless the “fear” factor is helping to boost demand for antibacterial products.

Surface care is one category in which demand for antimicrobial ingredients is strong. Antimicrobials in surface care grew by a 5% CAGR over 2006-2011, with household antiseptics/disinfectants accounting for the majority of volume in the category. Unlike in other surface care categories, demand for antibacterial products and in turn antimicrobial ingredients is not being entirely driven by the rise in incomes and home ownership seen in many developing countries. These factors are certainly helping to increase volumes in these regions above the global average, but strong growth is being fuelled by health scares.

Demand reflects current health concerns

The US, for example, has seen a decline in sales of household antiseptics/disinfectants (down 8% by volume in 2010/2011) as health scares have subsided and other cleaning products, such as wipes, offer disinfectant properties. Meanwhile, in China, demand continues to rise as consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with preventing the spread of bacteria in the home. Repeated outbreaks of influenza in 2010 helped to increase volumes of household antiseptics/disinfectants in
China by 17% that year, with total volumes reaching 53 million litres in 2011. This growth rate is expected to continue, with demand in 2012 forecast to rise by 18% as consumers continue to be fearful of germs and bacteria.

Therefore, future demand for antimicrobials in surface care is more difficult to estimate than other ingredients. While volumes of antimicrobials in surface care are forecast to rise by a 5% CAGR over 2011-2016, another global health scare such as swine flu or bird flu could see volumes soar.