Also known as slush powder, superabsorbent polymers (SAP) are water-absorbing polymers. They can absorb and retain large amounts of water or aqueous solutions as compared to their mass and weight, through hydrogen bonding with water molecules. Superabsorbent polymers or SAPs have found application in personal disposable hygiene products such as baby diapers, sanitary napkins, and adult incontinence products.
The global super absorbent polymers market was valued at USD 9 billion in 2019. By 2024, the market is expected to reach USD 12.9 billion, at a CAGR of 7.4%. Rising awareness about hygiene, increasing population including increasing geriatric population, and growing demand for baby diapers are some of the main factors that will have a favorable impact on the global market.
The use of superabsorbent polymers is expected to increase further with the growing awareness about the advantages offered by adult incontinence products. In fact, governments in countries like Australia, the US, the UK, and Germany have taken initiatives to support the use of adult incontinence products. Such developments will help increase the demand for adult incontinence products and thereby, propel the growth of the global super absorbent polymers market.
Apart from these, initiatives taken by international organizations such as World Bank, WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO and several other local bodies, to increase awareness about menstrual hygiene and provide affordable feminine hygiene products have boosted the use of these products across the world, especially in developing countries.
The demand for baby diapers has also been increasing continuously due to increased birth rates and growing disposable incomes. This too will increase the demand for superabsorbent polymers. However, one of the major concerns related to superabsorbent polymers is the disposal of non-biodegradable superabsorbent polymers.
As superabsorbent polymers used in personal hygiene products are generally made from petroleum-based raw materials, they are non-biodegradable in nature. So, there is an increasing focus on developing bio-based superabsorbent polymers made from products like cellulose, starch, chitosan, and natural gum.
Although bio-based polymers account for a very small share of the global super absorbent polymers market, the demand for them is likely to increase significantly in the coming years. This will give a major boost to the global market for super absorbent polymers.
However, high raw material cost, as well as the volatility in raw material prices, is likely to hinder the growth of the global superabsorbent polymers market. Nevertheless, the development and adoption of eco-friendly products are expected to provide significant growth opportunities in the market.
At present, the global market for super absorbent polymers is being dominated by North America. In North America, the US is the largest market for superabsorbent polymers. However, in the coming years, the Asia-Pacific region is projected to emerge as the largest market.
Increasing life expectancy and birth rates, and growing awareness about personal hygiene products in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region are going to increase the demand for baby diapers and adult personal hygiene products in the region. This will propel the growth of the Asia-Pacific superabsorbent polymers market.
The major players operating in the global superabsorbent polymers market are, Nippon Shokubai (Japan), BASF (Germany), Sumitomo (Japan), Evonik (Germany), LG Chem (South Korea), SDP Global (Japan), Yixing Danson (China), Satellite Science & Technology Co., Ltd. (China), and Kao Corporation (Japan).