The Indian Polyurethane story can be seen as a fairytale journey throwing up numerable prospects and challenges with time. The layered opportunities paved the way for the PU industry growth which saw the bloom of small time entrepreneurs to industry giants waking up to the Indian dream.

Despite facing a downturn currently, India will continue to remain a fast growing economy and has all the elements in place for sustained growth and demand from the polyurethanes market perspective. The primary reason for India witnessing a burst in opportunities in PU is the expanding middle class with increasing disposable incomes and rising urbanization supplemented strongly by investments in infrastructure.

PU Segment wise growth -

   Segement    2005    2010    2015
   SLABSTOCK    50000    83000    140000
   FLXMOLDED    25000    54000    90000
   RIGIDS    30000    65000    150000
   SHOE SOLES    15000    53000    100000
   CASE    8000    14000    25000
   TPU    2000    3000    5000

With Polyurethanes feeding into a wide spectrum of applications such as furniture & bedding, automotive, construction & building, footwear, appliances, CASE applications etc., a dip in one industry is suitably supported by a upswing in another.

The furniture industry in India is generating a turnover of 3500Crores per annum. The concept of good living and better lifestyle is catching up at all levels of society, where the middle class has also started to invest their money in most decorated furniture and comfort enhancing bedding. Flexible polyurethane foam is the most common cushioning material used in upholstered furniture. Foam has a variety of applications in upholstery. Some are functional, others are aesthetic.

The Indian automotive industry was among one of the fastest growing in the world. Between 1993 and 2002, average growth rates of 15% and 16% per annum were recorded for 4- and 2-wheelers respectively, and in 2004, the total 4- wheeler production exceeded 1 million units. Auto industry growth looks promising with several new OEM's setting shop in the country. India is also becoming active in exports mainly for small cars.

Application of PU in footwear industry has seen prominent growth in last few years with PU proving to be a worthy replacement to materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) & ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) because of ease of processing and designing.

Another key industry application of PU which is emerging to prominence in the last few years and one which industry experts believe will define the way forward is insulation, followed closely by furniture and bedding and CASE applications. As energy saving initiatives and sensitivity towards energy efficiency resonates across the country, PU as insulation material is being showcased intensely. Indian Polyurethane Association (IPUA) is also taking an active role in promoting the need of insulation in buildings through India Insulation Forum (IIF), which in turn will lead to rise in demand for PU.

Categorical efforts are in place to consolidate established applications and drive emerging applications of PU. As the manufacturers take stock of PU usage in domestic appliances, automotive, furniture, footwear and bedding, key areas such innovative footwear technologies, tailor-made solutions for automotive, retail and cold chain solutions for the emerging logistics sector and constructions solutions for infrastructure development will bring in the big bucks in the future.

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