Quarterly Update on Global Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
For the Quarter Ending September 2020
China’s export EPS supply was tightened after a short-term shutdown was announce at a manufacturing unit in South China, Domestic supply in China was also on the tighter end due to permanent closures of some plants in East China. However, supply levels in other Asian countries remained stable due to unchanged manufacturing activities. Increased construction activities in Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia were indicative of pent-up demand for the product which is expected to march higher moving into Q4. Also, the much-awaited revival of automotive industry, triggered an upsurge in the demand across the Indian and Chinese markets. Buying interest in Malaysia was relatively strong on some recovery observed in the construction sector. In India, FOB price of Expanded Polystyrene was averaged around USD 1350 per tonne during the third quarter, resisting any further upward movement since Q2 2020.
With one producer facing production issue, supplies started to tighten towards the end of Q3, thereby hampering regional availability. Apart from that, availability of EPS in North America remained sufficient to meet the market needs. Demand picked up in Q3, sufficient to pull over the supply side. Owning to long delivery time, interest in imports thinned during the quarter. On spec demand showed a sharp recovery to pre-covid levels in Q3 due to ease in Covid-related restrictions on economic activity. Strong growth seen in the residential construction, majorly in the sub urban areas and from food packaging sector helped producers in fetching marked gains.
Maintenance of high stocks and ample inventories kept the EPS supply relatively balance throughout the third quarter, when demand was showing gradual improvement. However, for a relatively short span, supply tightness was observed in August due to lower output levels maintained during majority of Q2. Also, import volumes dropped much lower than usual with pricing largely non-competitive. Regional traders observed stronger demand from white goods packaging, particularly in July and September. However, construction demand remained soft, with the industry still grappling with the pandemic impact amid fears of second wave of infections pressuring the overall activity.