Waxes are organic compounds primarily comprising long and linear alkyl chains. These alkyl chains are characterized by specific crystal structure. Crystal structure of wax can be altered by adding branching to the linear alkyl chain. Change in crystal structure alters physical properties of the wax. This offers flexibility to wax manufacturers and wax blenders to customize wax products according to end-user requirements. Wax is generally malleable at room temperature; upon heating, it melts into a low viscosity fluid. Wax is insoluble in water and soluble in non-polar organic solvents. Petroleum & mineral, synthetic and natural wax exhibit differ in chemical composition. Therefore, there is difference in their crystal structure as well.
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Rising base of end-users is expected to drive the global wax market in the near future. Cosmetics, packaging, and candles are the fastest-growing end-user industries for the global wax market. However, closure of Group I base oil refineries is anticipated to hamper market growth in the near future. Upcoming gas-to-liquids refineries across the globe are projected to offer high opportunities for market players in the next few years. Increasing gap between supply and demand dynamics is likely to be an important opportunity for investors during the forecast period.
Product segments of wax include petroleum & mineral, synthetic and natural. In terms of volume, petroleum & mineral wax was the largest segment in the global wax market in 2013. However, it is estimated to grow at the lowest rate as compared to synthetic and natural wax segments during the forecast period. Petroleum & mineral wax can be further sub-segmented into paraffin, microcrystalline and others. Synthetic wax accounted for approximately 11% of the market share in 2013. It is however expected to be the fastest growing segment in the global wax market during the forecast period. Synthetic wax product segment has been bifurcated into gas-to-liquids (GTL) wax, polymer wax and others. Natural wax, on the other hand, is primarily obtained from beeswax and can also be derived from vegetable oils.
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In terms of volume, candles emerged as the largest end-user industry segment of the global wax market in 2013. The segment accounted for over 41% share in 2013. Candles segment is anticipated to remain the largest application in the near future. Increasing usage of scented and decorative luxury candles across the globe is driving demand for wax in this end-user industry segment. Cosmetics and packaging are estimated to be the fastest growing end-user industry segments in the global wax market during the forecast period. Wax is widely used as base material in various cosmetic formulations; hence, it forms an important constituent of such products. Wax acts as a medium of delivery of active ingredients with consistent regulating functions. It also possesses skincare properties. These help in retaining moisture by reducing dehydration.
Asia Pacific dominated the wax market in terms of volume and revenue in 2013. The region has been experiencing high demand for wax in candles, packaging, adhesive and cosmetics industries. Asia Pacific is considered a manufacturing hub for major manufacturing industries across the globe; China is the center of the hub. Demand for wax in North America and Europe is anticipated to increase at a sluggish rate. Wax is widely used in the manufacture of candles in these regions. Demand for wax changes according to festival seasons. Demand for wax in Central & South America and Middle East & Africa is projected to rise at a moderate rate in the next few years.
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The global wax market is highly consolidated in nature. Some multinational companies exhibit a high degree of forward integration and develop customized wax products by blending the crystal structure of wax. Key players in the wax market include China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), The International Group, Inc. (IGI), Exxon Mobil Corporation, Sasol Wax, Sinopec Limited and Royal Dutch Shell plc, Lukoil, Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc., and Petróleos de Venezuela, SA.
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