According to a new study by Grand View Research, USA, the global market for biosurfactants is expected to reach $2,308.8 million by 2020. Preference towards use of bio-based products, particularly in Europe and North America, is expected to increase biosurfactant penetration. In addition, stringent regulatory policies are further expected to augment the biosurfactant demand over the next six years.
The global biosurfactant market could reach 462KT by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2014 to 2020. Household detergent was the largest application of biosurfactants accounting for 44.6% of market in 2013. The growing environment concern with synthetic surfactants in detergent is expected to lead to increased usage of biosurfactants owing to their lower toxicity. In addition, biosurfactants have superior foaming properties as compared to synthetic surfactants making them ideally suited for use in detergents.
The demand for biosurfactants in personal care is also expected to reach 50.7KT by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 4.5%. Industrial and Food processing applications of biosurfactants together accounted for over 11% of the market in 2013. Biosurfactants are increasingly being used as oil field chemicals due to their excellent cleaning ability and stable chemical nature. The other segments covered in the report include agricultural chemicals, textiles and institutional applications.
Europe has been the largest regional market for biosurfactants, with consumption of 178.9KT in 2013. Asia Pacific was a relatively small market in 2013 but is expected to gain significant share over the next six years owing to the presence of large manufacturing industries in the region.
The global biosurfactants market is consolidated with the top companies — BASF Cognis, Ecover, Urumqui Unite, Saraya and MG Intobio — catering to nearly 90% of global demand.
Surfactants are usually amphiphilic organic compounds containing both hydrophobic group (tail) and hydrophilic groups (head). Bio-surfactants are surfactants in which at least one of the two groups (hydrophilic or hydrophobic) is obtained from plants and hence they are not necessarily 100% plant-derived.
Surfactants lower the surface tension of liquids, allowing chemicals to mix more easily. Biosurfactants are produced using oleochemical (bio-based) raw materials including plant oils coconut and palm oils, plant carbohydrates such as sorbitol, sucrose and glucose or from animal fats tallow. Oleochemical feedstock sourcing for surfactants has been changing in recent years as animal fats have lost ground in favour of vegetable oils. Like synthetic surfactants, biosurfactants are excellent emulsifiers and maintain wetting and foaming properties, characteristics that are valued in several applications including household detergents and cosmetics industry.
Growing environmental concerns with regard to the use of synthetic (petroleum derived) surfactants such as low degradability are expected to be a key driver for the growth in biosurfactants market over the forecast period.
Synthetic surfactants have a high degree of branching those results in poor degradability in contrast to biosurfactants which have high biodegradability and low toxicity. However, cost competitiveness with respect to conventional surfactants remains a major restraint for the market. In addition, the low availability and high price of feedstock owing to demand in other applications such as biofuels and downstream renewable chemicals is expected to pose major hurdles to the development of biosurfactants.
Methy Ester Ketone (MES) was the largest consumed biosurfactants accounting for 33% of the 344KT global market in 2013. MES is derived from palm and coconut and is an excellent substitute to synthetic surfactants as detergent feedstock. In addition, MES has far lower price as compared to other convention detergent feedstocks.
Alkyl Polyglucoside (APG) was the second largest consumed biosurfactants accounting for 25% of the global demand in 2013. APG is derived from sugar and fatty alcohols and has excellent properties for use in industrial applications. The high share is due to its excellent foaming properties with high stability and caustic content.
Sorbitan esters and sucrose esters were the other key products in the market with a combined share of 8% in 2013.
Rhamnolipids was a relatively small market in 2013 but is expected to register highest growth at an estimated CAGR of 5.4% from 2014 to 2020 owing to its development using biotech processing.