Global shortfall of millions of tons of vinyl acetate monomer

23 April 2014

A global shortfall in the supply of a key raw material for the manufacture of water-based adhesives is putting pressure on Europe’s adhesives manufacturers according to FEICA, the Brussels-based Association of the European Adhesive & Sealant Industry. Experts estimate that the demand for the raw material vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) currently exceeds supply by around one million metric tons, with international chemical companies raising their prices for VAM significantly as a result.

The shortage of VAM has been caused by the closure of several production facilities in Europe, the USA and Asia due to failures and accidents or just the need for maintenance work. In Europe alone there is a shortfall of around 500,000 metric tons of VAM.

VAM is the most important ingredient in dispersion adhesives, which are used for example in the automobile industry, the building sector, the woodworking and furniture industry, the manufacture of paper and packaging materials, and by DIY, hobby and craft enthusiasts. VAM is also an important raw material in the paints and coatings, construction, and textile manufacturing sectors.

In recent weeks, several VAM producers have reported plant malfunctions or announced sales controls because demand for VAM is so much higher than the product’s availability. Because of the critical supply situation, the price for VAM has jumped several times since the end of 2013, substantially increasing the input costs for Europe’s adhesives industry.

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