World demand for textile processing and finishing chemicals is forecast to increase 4.6 per cent a year to more than $17bn in 2004, according to World Textile Chemicals, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc.

A growing global emphasis on producing higher-value textile goods, coupled with growing environmental regulations, will promote the use of more expensive chemical dyes and finishes. Chemical volume will be limited by end-user programs to reduce overall chemical consumption and the use of more concentrated and/or more effective chemical formulations. Growth in demand for textile goods, especially apparel, will continue to be slow or even declining in key markets. These and other trends are presented in the study.

Colorants and related dyeing and printing auxiliaries will remain the largest product segment, with 46 per cent of total sales in 2004. Growth in demand for these products will rebound considerably due to somewhat improved pricing dynamics and a shift in product mix toward more expensive dye formulations that provide environmental and/or productivity benefits.

Global finishing chemicals will record the fastest growth through the year 2004. Growth will be driven by growing emphasis on product quality and consumer demand for comfortable and durable apparel and textiles. Increasing production of industrial textiles will drive growth for functional finished like flame retardants and water repellants.

The fastest growth for textile chemicals overall will continue to be registered in the developing countries of Asia, Latin America, Africa and in Mexico. Cost is becoming less dominant in company strategies, as end users are also increasingly interested in suppliers with proximity to key regional markets, fast response to fashion trends and higher quality.

Countries with the fastest growth in textile chemical demand include Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Turkey, India and Brazil as well as smaller producers in Asia, such as Bangladesh and Vietnam, and in other Latin American countries. Growth in Eastern Europe will improve considerably, with several countries recording gains above the world average. Textile producers in developed countries continue to face severe import competition.

World Textile Chemicals is available for $4,300 from The Freedonia Group Inc. For further details, please contact Corinne Gangloff by e-mail Full text is also available online through commercial database companies and the website.