Lactic acid is one of the most important carboxylic acids used in several end-user industries due to its wide range of chemical properties. It is commercially manufactured using two production processes: chemical and microbial processes. The chemical process uses petroleum-based raw materials in the manufacture of lactic acid and has limitations in terms of application array.The microbial process (through fermentation) is the most widely used production process as it yields lactic acid of the highest purity, which is mostly required by downstream markets. In the microbial process, lactic acid primarily uses raw materials such as corn, sugar, cassava, wheat, and rice. It is chiefly used in the production of biodegradable plastics such as polylactic acid. Application of lactic acid in the biodegradable plastics segment is likely to boost the lactic acid market in the next eight years. Additionally, the usage of lactic acid in food and beverage, personal care, and pharmaceutical as an essential ingredient is expected to raise the demand for lactic acid during the forecast period.
Biodegradable plastics was the largest end-user segment of the lactic acid market with a share of over 35% in 2014. Biodegradable plastics is also estimated to be the fastest growing segment of the lactic acid market, expanding at CAGR of 13.5% between 2015 and 2023. Food and beverage and personal care end-users are also anticipated to hold significantly high share of the global lactic acid market in the next few years. Increasing demand for sustainable alternatives to conventional plastics is propelling the demand for polylactic acid and indirectly, the demand for lactic acid.
Based on regions, the global lactic acid market has been bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa. North America was the largest regional market for lactic acid, constituting over 30% share in 2014. Increasing demand for bioplastics is projected to drive the lactic acid market in North America in the next few years. Furthermore, Asia Pacific is likely to be the fastest growing region in the global lactic acid market during the forecast period. Rising environmental awareness and problems associated with dumping of plastics is expected to act as one of the prime reasons for growth in the bioplastics market and indirectly, the lactic acid market. The lactic acid market in North America is estimated to expand at a steady rate during the next six years due to slow but steady recovery of the economy in the U.S. The lactic acid market in Latin America and the Middle East & Africa is also estimated to grow at a moderate pace in the next few years due to rising demand for polylactic acid in the packaging industry in the Middle East & Africa and Latin America.
Polylactic acid is one of the most promising bioplastics and serves as an effective alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastics. It is commercially manufactured using two production processes: condensation and ring-opening process. The condensation process results in a low-weight polymer as an outcome, which has limitations in terms of application array. The ring-opening process is the most widely used production process as it yields polylactic acid of highest commercial value, which is primarily required by packaging, electronics, and textile markets. Application of polylactic acid in the packaging segment is likely to propel the polylactic acid market in the next eight years. Furthermore, application of polylactic acid in electronics, textile, and biomedical as an essential ingredient is expected to increase the demand for polylactic acid during the forecast period.