The first use of zinc compounds is estimated to have taken place thousands of years ago, by early humans, in both processed and unprocessed forms. However, the first written mention of the use of zinc oxide can be traced to 500 BC in India, where zinc oxide was used medically as a salve for eyes and to help heal open wounds. Since then, there has been much more research and use of zinc oxide, based on its numerous unique properties.
Zinc oxide is a water-insoluble inorganic compound that is soluble in acids and bases and is widely used in industries such as plastics, rubber, ceramics, glass, paints, cement, lubricants, coatings, ointments, adhesives, batteries, foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. While zinc oxide does occur naturally in the form of zincite, most of the zinc oxide used by industries is manufactured synthetically.
Zinc oxide is also a wide-bandgap semiconductor with high electron mobility, good transparency, and room temperature luminance that make it appealing for use in electronics. It can be classified on the basis of the production technique used, namely the indirect process, direct process, and wet chemical process.
Zinc Oxide Market Research
According to the zinc oxide market research, the global market for zinc oxide is expected to reach a value of $4.70 billion by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6 percent while the demand for zinc oxide is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5 percent in the same period. The global zinc oxide market currently has a surplus supply, which is expected to continue over the next 2-3 years.
Market Drivers: The key factors driving the growth of the zinc oxide market are the various applications of the compound. Zinc oxide is used in the vulcanization process of rubber, making the rubber resistant to fungi and safe from UV rays, which is useful especially in car tires.
The qualities of zinc oxide in protecting against UV radiation make it a popular component of sunscreen creams and lotions, acting as a skin protector. Due to the antibacterial and antifungal properties of zinc oxide, it is also used as a topical ointment to treat skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne, eczema, diaper rash and acne.
Zinc oxide is used in the food and beverages industry as an additive to provide a source of zinc which is a necessary nutrient for the human body. In coatings, zinc oxide powder is added to provide an anticorrosive layer for metals.
Market Challenges: The main challenge for the zinc oxide market at a global level is the threat of substitutes. As the prices of zinc oxide are prone to fluctuation based on the volatile prices of feedstock, cost-effective substitutes pose a challenge to the market.
Regional Market: The zinc oxide market varies based on the specific region, which drives the demand for end-user segments. The increasing demand for electronics and cosmetic products, especially in developing economies of Brazil, India, and China is driving the growth of the zinc oxide market in those regions. In developed nations, the demand for zinc oxide is more from automobile sales and innovative electronic products.
The APAC region overall is expected to lead the demand as well as the supply for zinc oxide and is projected to be the fastest growing market for zinc oxide in terms of value, with capacity additions taking place in the next 2 years.
The costing also depends on the regional location, with raw material accounting for 68 percent of costs in the EU, 60 percent in North America and 55 percent in APAC. Top global suppliers are US Zinc Corp., Umicore, Chem Trade, Silox SA and HakusuiTech Co Ltd. At a global level, the average operating rates for zinc oxide plants are estimated to be around 85 percent. In China, the operating rate is estimated to be 50-55 percent which is expected to increase to 70 percent.
Zinc Oxide Market Upcoming Trends
Currently, there are numerous applications of zinc oxide across industries, and more applications are likely to be discovered in the upcoming future, driven by research and development efforts around the world. Among the most significant upcoming trends in the zinc oxide market is the development and production of zinc oxide nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are finding greater applications in the fields of electronics and in the development of sun-proof clothing.
Zinc oxide, by virtue of its unique chemical and physical properties, has found a variety of uses across industries. At a global level, there is a consistent demand for zinc oxide from both developed and developing countries, especially for its applications in rubber, cosmetics, skincare, and coatings.
The main factors driving the market for zinc oxide are its different applications, while the risk of substitution poses a challenge. APAC is expected to have the fastest growth in the zinc oxide market, although new applications and use of zinc oxide nanoparticles will further spur the growth of the market at a global level.