CLEVELAND, July 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Global salt consumption is forecast to grow 1.9 percent annually through 2020 to 335 million metric tons, valued at $14.1 billion. Steady gains in the Asia/Pacific and Africa/Mideast regions, as well as in North America, will support market increases. These and other trends are presented in World Salt, a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm.
The Asia/Pacific region, led by China and India, will remain the largest market for salt in 2020, accounting for 45 percent of worldwide sales. The Africa/Mideast region will post faster demand increases, albeit from a much smaller 2015 base. According to analyst Zoe Biller, "Gains will be driven by the industrial diversification of the region, particularly the expansion of chemical production." This will spur output of caustic soda and chlorine, the primary products of salt electrolysis. Increases in food processing and a wide variety of other manufacturing activities will also stimulate regional salt sales growth.
As a result of this growth in the Africa/Mideast and Asia/Pacific regions, salt demand in chemical applications will expand at the fastest pace of any major market for the mineral through 2020. New caustic soda production facilities in the United Arab Emirates, among other places, will boost output capacity and upstream demand for salt. On the other hand, global chemical salt demand will be offset to a certain extent by a European Union regulation set to take effect in December 2017 that will ban mercury-based chlorine production. The high cost involved in converting to membrane-based capacity will cause a number of plants to close, dampening output and therefore salt consumption.
Solar evaporation will remain by far the most common method for extracting salt in 2020, accounting for over two-fifths of worldwide output. This method's low costs relative to the more energy-intensive rock salt mining and brine extraction processes will support gains. In addition, a number of countries located in the two fastest growing regional markets -- the Africa/Mideast and Asia/Pacific regions -- possess climates that are ideally suited for the production of solar salt, further supporting output increases. The vacuum evaporation process will also record robust gains, supported by healthy growth in China, where higher purity standards are gaining in importance in both the chemical manufacturing and food processing industries.
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