Linear Alkylbenzene (LAB) Growth To Average 2.5 Percent Per Year

AIKEN, South Carolina, July 27, 2015 / PRNewswire – The 3.2 million ton global market for linear alkylbenzene (LAB) is projected to grow at a rate of 2.5 percent/year over the 2013-2025 period, according to Colin A. Houston & Associates, Inc. (CAHA), a consulting firm in Aiken, South Carolina.  LAB use in surfactants represented $6.3 billion in value in 2013.  Demand in Asia accounts for 50 percent of worldwide LAB consumption with 3.2 percent/year growth forecast through 2025.

CAHA published a new multiclient study, Detergent Alkylates – World Markets to 2025 in July 2015.  CAHA has closely followed the detergent alkylate markets for more than 30 years, providing global studies and newsletters on surfactants and intermediates.

LAB producers in the Middle East hold cost advantages and have built export-oriented plants during the past decade.  Indian producers are disadvantaged by higher cost feedstocks, which has opened the door for large quantities of imports.  A new feature on LAB process economics included in the report compares costs for five different LAB plant configurations for U.S. Gulf Coast and India locations.

An analysis of the global LAB trade documents destination volumes and sources for more than 50 countries.  Since 2006, ex-regional trade has risen from 18 to 22 percent, notably from Middle East and West European suppliers.  Recently, a build-up of new capacity in China has created an over-supply, with Chinese materials now seen throughout Asia and beyond.

“Competing detergent raw materials have challenged LAB over the past decade – most notably the massive build up of oleo-alcohols – however, since last year’s drop in crude oil prices, the relative economics of surfactant intermediates have turned back to favor LAB’s competiveness,” says Matthew Jordan, Vice President.  “Another competitor, methyl ester sulfonates, hasn’t been able to maintain the threat level that was once feared, despite the start-up of several new units in Southeast Asia.”

While a large part of the world still uses powder detergents, liquid detergents are becoming more popular on a global scale.  This transition has held back LAB growth as alcohol-based detergents, particularly in the heavy duty liquid detergent segment, have made significant inroads over the past decade.

Globally, linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LABS) consumption in household products is forecast to grow at an average rate of 2.5 percent per year through 2025, from 4 million tons to 5.4 million tons, representing over 90 percent of the total LABS demand through the forecast period.  Growth in Asia leads this segment, with demand growing at 3.5 percent during the period.  Synthetic detergent growth and the increased per capita consumption in developing regions are driving the increase in demand.

Further details of CAHA’s studies are available at, by phone +1-803-226-0350 or e-mail:  Other CAHA publications include Higher Alcohols Forecast to 2025 (multiclient study), and monthly newsletters: LAB Market Report and Surfactant Developments Newsletter.

Joel Houston or
Matthew Jordan