Leather chemicals are primarily used in various stages of leather production. They improve the overall quality of the finished product, which is further used in several end-user industries. Demand for leather chemicals is primarily led by growth in the automotive, apparel, and footwear industries globally. Leather chemicals play an important role in enhancing features of leather such as appearance, water resistance, and heat resistance. Leather is extensively used in the automotive industry as a preferred choice of material for interiors. This is a key driver for the leather market, and, subsequently, for the leather chemicals market. The leather chemicals industry is likely to expand in tandem with the automotive industry across the globe. Growth of the footwear industry is another major driver for the leather chemicals market. Footwear is one of the most dominant end-user segments of the leather industry. Leather is used in the production of shoe soles, whole shoes, boots, women’s footwear, etc. Increasing population and rising disposable income are expected to be the major factors driving demand for leather chemicals in the next few years.
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With over 40% share, tanning & dyeing chemicals was the largest segment of the leather chemicals market at the end of 2013. It plays an important part in increasing durability of leather and also protects it from decomposition. Chemicals used in this process include calcium hydroxide, cyanides, and amines. Chromium complexes are employed in tanning to produce stretchable leather, which is used in the manufacture garments and handbags. The processes that entail tanning & dyeing process include beamhouse operations, soaking, liming, and pickling. Demand for tanning and dyeing chemicals is anticipated to increase significantly, particularly in emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil.
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Beamhouse chemicals were the other major segment in the leather industry in 2013. The processes involved between curing and tanning are called beamhouse operations. These are the most important processes in leather production. Chemicals used in beamhouse operations include biocides, swell regulating agents, soda ash, chromium sulfate, and formic acid. The market for beamhouse chemicals is anticipated to witness strong growth over the next few years due to rising demand for leather in various end-user industries such as footwear, apparel, and automotive. The leather chemicals industry exhibits a high degree of backward integration, as many major producers of leather chemicals are engaged in its upstream activities. This backward integration of some of the key market participants provides them with a distinct competitive advantage in terms of product quality and market dominance.
In terms of volume, Asia Pacific and Europe were the major markets for leather chemicals in 2013; Asia Pacific accounted for the largest market share of approximately 40% in the same year. Of late, the leading manufacturers of leather chemicals are focusing higher on capacity expansion in Asia Pacific due to rising demand for leather chemicals in the region. Recent growth in automotive and footwear industries is anticipated to be the major factor driving demand for leather chemicals Asia Pacific. Increasing demand for leather in the automotive industry in emerging and developed economies is likely to be the major driver for the leather chemicals market in the near future.
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Of late, the usage of environment-friendly products has increased due to regulations imposed by various governing bodies across the globe. Opportunities are available for new players in leather chemicals market, particularly in Asia Pacific and RoW. Several new entrants are keen to establish themselves in the market. Key players operating in the leather chemicals market include BASF SE, Stahl Holdings b.v., Clariant International Ltd., Bayer AG, TFL Ledertechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Lanxess AG, Elementis plc, Heim Leather Chem GmbH, Schill + Seilacher GmbH, DyStar Singapore Pte Ltd., Rock Chemie Co., and Wei Tai Leather Co., Ltd.
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