CLEVELANDDriven by rising levels of tire manufacturing, worldwide demand for rubber is forecast to rise 3.9 percent per year through 2019, according to market research firm Freedonia Group.
Cleveland-based Freedonia expects the Asia/Pacific region to outstrip the global demand growth pace, rising 4.8 percent per year through 2019, or double the growth rate of North America and more than five times the expected growth rate in western Europe.
The company cites rising income levels in developing regionsparticularly in the Asia/Pacific regionfor its projection, saying rising affluence will support gains in motor vehicle manufacturing and usage, fueling demand for tires and, in turn, rubber.
Asia/Pacific accounted for 62.4 percent of global demand in 2014, and Freedonia sees that rising to 65.2 percent by 2019, when worldwide demand should approach 31.7 million metric tons.
Growth in manufacturing activity will also support increased demand for rubber in non-tire applications such as automotive components, industrial rubber products, medical products, and footwear, said Freedonia analyst Elliott Woo.
Tires represented 65 percent of global rubber demand in 2014, Freedonia said, and this will grow slightly to 65.2 percent by 2019.
Synthetic rubber accounted for 54.5 percent of demand in 2014 and will slightly outgrow natural rubber through 2019 by about 0.1 percentage point a year.
Through 2019, the six fastest-growing national rubber markets worldwide will be in Asia/Pacific, led by Indonesia, India and Thailand. Demand for rubber in China, Malaysia and Vietnam will also advance rapidly, benefiting from gains in manufacturing.
China will remain by far the world's largest rubber market, representing over half of the Asia/Pacific total in 2019.
Demand for rubber in the Central/South America and Africa/Mideast regions will rise at solid rates also, benefiting from growth in their tire industries.
Demand growth in North America and Europe will be below the global average, constrained by the maturity of their economies.