Unlike the pigments market, which is served by a number of significant global suppliers like Sun Chemical, the pigment intermediates market has largely become supplied solely by Asian producers. As a consequence, buyers of these intermediates required for the production of pigments have become exposed to increasing risk in supply due to operational and regulatory issues.
Recently, two key intermediates streams have come under significant pressure for very different reasons.
China is the most important global source of Beta Naphthol derived intermediates for producing red pigments such as Red 57:1, Red 22, and Red 48. Beta Naphthol is now in very tight supply in China due to the shut down of two key manufacturing locations, one permanently. Prices have risen by 40% for Beta Naphthol since the beginning of the year, and it is unknown at this point when supply and demand will come back into acceptable equilibrium.
India is the most important source of the Phthalo intermediates that are used as the starting point for so many key blue and green pigments, such as Blue 15:3, Blue 15:4 and Green 7. Phthalo intermediates producers have been coming under increased pressure from the Indian government on a number of regulatory compliance issues. Most recently, this has taken the form of forcing the intermediates producers to buy only an industrial version of a key raw material, Urea, instead of subsidized versions that are intended for agricultural use. This switch will dramatically impact the cost of producing these intermediates as well as potentially tighten the availability of industrial Urea.
Sun Chemical has been carefully monitoring these developments and has taken actions to assure its supply position by capitalizing on its long-term relationships with leading intermediates producers. However, the company fully expects that there will be some significant cost impacts, certainly by early Q3, and wanted to take the opportunity to get this information to customers early.