Lignin is known to be the second most abundant biological material present on Earth after cellulose. The term ‘lignin’ is derived from the Latin term ‘lignum,’ which means wood. Wood primarily comprises various chemical components such as carbohydrates and extractives. Thus, lignin is a plant-derived polymer. Lignin is used as a binder, dispersant, and additive. These functional properties make it useful in a wide range of niche applications. This is the major factor driving the global lignin market. Furthermore, increasing demand for lignin in Asia Pacific due to industrial expansion in the region is anticipated to boost demand for lignin in the market.
Lignins are categorized into sulfur bearing and sulfur-free lignins. Sulfur bearing lignins are commercialized and known as lignosulfonates and kraft lignin. Others (including organosolv) are sulfur-free lignins. These are not commercialized due to lack of industrial process. Lignosulfonates accounted for the largest share of the global lignin market in 2014 due to rising demand for lignin on the building & construction industry. Demand for kraft lignin has increased due to growing demand for dye stuff in the paints & coatings and textile industries. Additionally, rising usage of kraft lignin as insecticides has contributed to the growth of global lignin market. Kraft lignin held 8.0% share of the global lignin market in 2014. It is expected to gain market share during the forecast period. The others segment (including organosolv) is anticipated to expand steadily during the forecast period.
Lignin has a wide scope for growth in niche applications such as concrete additive, animal feed, dye stuff, and other applications (including cosmetics and absorbents). Lignosulfonates offer higher absorption properties along with zeta potential to cement particles. Thus, lignosulfonates are used as concrete additive in the construction industry. Animal feed constituted over 10% share of the global lignin market in 2014. The segment is estimated to account for more than 15% share in 2023. Kraft lignin offers different chemical properties vis-à-vis lignosulfonates. Hence, it is used as a dye stuff and insecticide. Rising demand for lignin in the paints and coatings and textile industries has contributed to the growth of the lignin market globally. The others segment (including cosmetics and absorbents) is also projected to boost demand for lignin due to its emulsifying properties, which are useful in the manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products.
Developing regions are likely to contribute to the growth of the global lignin market. Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing market during the forecast period. In terms of growth, Latin America followed Asia Pacific in 2014 and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 3.5% during the forecast period. North America accounted for the largest market share of more than 30% of the global lignin market in 2014. Europe followed North America in terms of market share in 2014. Europe is estimated to lose its market share during the forecast period, due to rising production and labor costs in the region as compared to other regions. Demand for lignin is also projected to increase in the Middle East and Africa during the forecast period.
The lignin market is highly concentrated, with top five players accounting for more than 85% share of the global market in 2014. Key players operating in the lignin market include Borregaard LignoTech, MeadWestvaco Corporation, Tembec, Inc., Domtar Corporation, Domsjö Fabriker AB, Changzhou Shanfeng Chemical Industry Co., Ltd, Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd., and UPM-Kymmene Corporation.