Optical brighteners are added to various materials to improve their shine. Optical brighteners are fluorescent chemicals that function by absorbing incident UV and near-UV light and radiating light in the blue range. The brightening effect imparted by most optical brighteners is temporary, as it occurs due to fluorescence rather than phosphorescence, which is longer-lasting.
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Optical brighteners hold an important position in the textiles, detergents, paper, cosmetics and other industries due to the value added by imparting brightness to the product in these industries. According to Transparency Market Research, the global market for optical brighteners market was valued at US$1.1 bn in 2014. Exhibiting a steady 4.1% CAGR in the 2015-2023 period, the market is expected to rise to a valuation of US$1.7 bn by the end of 2023. By volume, the optical brighteners market is expected to exhibit a slightly inferior 3.8% CAGR in the same period.
Rising Demand from Textile Industry Remains Key Demand Driver for Optical Brighteners
In the last few years, the prime driver for the global optical brighteners market has been the rapid growth of the textile industry, which has benefitted immensely from the rising demand for clothes in developing economies. The textile industry is likely to receive further demand in emerging regions such as Latin America and Southeast Asia in the coming years due to the rapid urbanization in countries such as India, Brazil, China, Thailand, Vietnam, etc., ensuring steady demand for optical brighteners.
Asia Pacific accounted for 38% of the global optical brighteners market in 2014 and is likely to remain the dominant contributor to the market in the coming years, with a steady 5% CAGR expected for the market in the 2015-2023 period. North America and Europe, on the other hand, are expected to exhibit robust CAGRs of 8.1% and 7.3%, respectively, in the 2015-2023 forecast period. The rising demand for detergents and textiles in developed countries is the key reason for the rapid growth expected of the optical brighteners market in North America and Europe.
The rising demand for cosmetic skincare products has also become a key driver for the global optical brighteners market. An increasing number of people have started to pay attention to the ill effects of air pollution on skin as well as the risks of increased exposure to solar radiation due to ozone layer depletion. This has driven the demand for advanced cosmetic products containing specific chemicals acting on specific aspects of skincare. This is likely to remain a key driver for the optical brighteners market in the coming years due to the high pace of industrialization across the world.
Decline in Paper Industry to Adversely Impact Demand for Optical Brighteners
Of the key application areas of optical brighteners, the paper industry is one of the few without rosy prospects in the coming years. Due to the increasing demand for digitization and the convenience that comes along with it, the demand for paper communication is falling in almost every sector. This is likely to restrict the demand for optical brighteners in the paper industry in the coming years, as the extra costs may not present much benefit in the larger scheme.
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Government regulations to make sure that optical brighteners function well without harming any of the users are another key restraint on the global optical brighteners market. Since optical brighteners can directly come in close contact with the skin of the user, particularly in the case of detergents, this is a necessary step for the optical brighteners industry.
Leading players in the global optical brighteners market include BASF SE, Huntsman Corporation, AkzoNobel N.V., and Eastman Chemical Company. The high degree of consolidation in the global optical brighteners market is evident in the fact that, in 2015, these 4 companies accounted for more than 50% of the market.