Cresols are a type of aromatic hydrocarbon used as an intermediate in the production of several chemicals. Industries using cresols as an intermediate include polymer resins, antioxidants, rubbers, vitamin E, plasticizers, solvents, fragrances, pharmaceuticals, and dyes. The high demand gained by many of these end-use industries in recent years is responsible for the steady performance of the global cresols market.
Cresols are monomethyl phenols distinguished by one methyl ion and one hydroxide ion being attached to a ring of carbon atoms linked by alternate single and double bonds. The hydroxide ion is always present at the first carbon atom in cresols; the position of the methyl ion determines the type of cresol. Cresols containing a methyl ion at the second carbon atom are known as ortho-cresol, o-cresol, or 2-methylphenol, the ones containing a methyl ion at the third carbon atom are known as m-cresol, meta-cresol, or 3-methylphenol, and cresols with a methyl ion attached to the fourth carbon atom are known as p-cresol, para-cresol, or 4-methylphenol.
According to leading market analysis firm, Transparency Market Research, the global market for cresols was valued at US$338.9 mn in 2014. Rising at a 3.3% CAGR from 2015 to 2023, the market is expected to be valued at US$452.1 mn by 2023.
Rising Demand for Vitamin E Propels Cresols Market
Vitamin E has several beneficial effects on the human body, and awareness about the possible health benefits of supplementation of vitamin E is growing. Vitamin E plays a crucial role as an antioxidant in the human body, apart from being of benefit in matters of gene expression, neurological health, lipid health, etc. The latter is particularly relevant in times when cardiovascular diseases have emerged as a major concern all over the world, as vitamin E prevents oxidation of lipids, maintaining them in forms beneficial to the body. The rising usage of cresols in the production of vitamin E is expected to provide a strong impetus to the global cresols market in the coming years.
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Chemical intermediates, unsurprisingly, formed the largest application category of the global cresols market in 2014, with 60% of all cresols being used as chemical intermediates. The rising chemicals industry around the world and the aforementioned increase in the demand for vitamin E supplements is expected to keep the chemical intermediates segment dominant in the cresols market, with the segment expected to exhibit the highest CAGR of all application segments from 2015 to 2023.
Para-cresols Dominate Demand from Global Cresols Market
Even though the chemical formula of all three types of cresols is the same (C7H8O), the differing structure imparts distinct properties to para-, ortho-, and meta-cresols. Para-cresols accounted for 45% of the global demand for cresols in 2014 and are expected to remain the leading product segment, with meta-cresols expected to exhibit the highest CAGR in the forecast period.
Regionally, Asia Pacific emerged as the dominant market for cresols in 2014, with a 45% share. The booming chemicals industry in emerging countries such as China and India is responsible for the promise shown by Asia Pacific. The region’s dominance in the global cresols market is expected to continue unabated in the coming years, with Europe following as the second fastest growing regional segment in the forecast period.
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