According to a research report “Lactic Acid and Polylactic Acid Market by Application (Biodegradable Polymers, Food & Beverages, Pharmaceutical Products), Raw Material, Form (Dry, Liquid), and Region (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Rest of the World) – Global Forecast to 2028″ published by MarketsandMarkets, the lactic acid market is estimated at USD 1.6 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach USD 2.8 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 12.4% from 2023 to 2028. The global polylactic acid market is anticipated to be valued at USD 1.3 billion in 2023 and escalate to USD 2.9 billion in 2028 by growing at a CAGR of 17.7% The surging concerns over global warming and plastic pollution have led to significant attention being directed towards bio-plastics. One standout option among these alternatives is polylactic acid (PLA), which possesses the dual advantages of being derived from renewable sources and is biodegradable. Its applications in disposable packaging have proliferated extensively. Jem’s law estimates that the demand for PLA in the global market doubles every 3 to 4 years. However, when compared to traditional petroleum-based plastics, PLA is generally more expensive and often exhibits subpar mechanical and physical properties. Nevertheless, recent progress in compounding techniques and the successful commercialization of D(-) lactic acid and its polymer PDLA present promising opportunities for augmenting the mechanical and thermal characteristics of PLA. For instance, the development of stereocomplex PLA shows potential for high-end market utilization, effectively addressing the performance limitations of PLA and broadening its prospects across diverse industries.
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Bio-degradable polymers in the lactic acid application segment accounted for the largest share of the lactic acid market in 2023 in terms of value.
Growing global environmental concerns and the need for sustainable solutions have fueled increasing demand for bio-degradable polymers as an alternative to traditional plastics. Derived from renewable resources and capable of biodegradation, these polymers align with the rising preference for eco-friendly materials. The demand for bio-degradable polymers spans diverse industries, including packaging, textiles, consumer goods, and automotive, benefiting from the versatility and adaptability of polylactic acid (PLA) in various applications. With heightened consumer awareness and a growing preference for sustainable products, the market for biodegradable polymers is poised for significant growth. Furthermore, ongoing advancements in PLA production technologies, accompanied by economies of scale, are driving cost reductions and enhancing the competitiveness of bio-degradable polymers against conventional plastics, further stimulating market expansion.
Packaging in the polylactic acid application segment accounted for the largest share of the lactic acid market in 2023 in terms of value.
The market for polylactic acid (PLA) packaging is poised for rapid growth due to several pivotal factors. There is an escalating global emphasis on sustainable packaging solutions, prompted by mounting environmental concerns and stricter regulations. PLA packaging, derived from renewable sources is biodegradable, and presents a compelling substitute for conventional plastics, effectively meeting the demand for eco-friendly materials. The surging consumer demand for sustainable packaging options serves as a significant catalyst driving the swift expansion of the PLA packaging market. Moreover, PLA packaging offers versatility and functionality comparable to conventional plastics. It can be molded into various shapes, sizes, and forms, making it suitable for a wide range of packaging applications across industries such as food and beverages, personal care, and e-commerce. The adaptability of PLA packaging to meet diverse packaging needs further contributes to its market growth.
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The corn sub-segment for the lactic acid raw material segment is estimated to grow at the highest in the lactic acid market.
Corn is the primary raw material for lactic acid production due to its high content of starch. Starch is the key component used in the fermentation process to produce lactic acid. Corn is abundantly available, economically viable, and widely cultivated, making it a favorable choice for lactic acid production. Additionally, corn-based feedstocks have well-established and efficient processing methods, contributing to its prominence as the primary raw material for lactic acid production.
The utilization of agricultural byproducts is on the rise. The increasing interest in sustainability and resource efficiency has prompted a growing recognition of the value of these byproducts. According to a groundbreaking study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) called “No Grain Left Behind,” it has been revealed that on-farm losses of corn crops in the United States are significantly greater than previously estimated by the industry. The study highlights a potential national loss of 507 million bushels of corn in 2022, indicating the substantial scale of the issue. The increased availability of corn residues resulting from on-farm losses can potentially drive the lactic acid market. These residues can serve as valuable feedstocks for lactic acid production, contributing to the sustainable and efficient use of agricultural by-products. The availability of more corn residues can help meet the growing demand for lactic acid and reduce the reliance on traditional corn feedstocks, promoting a more diversified and resilient lactic acid market.
The North America region accounted for the largest share, in terms of value, of the global lactic acid market in 2023.
North America has a strong presence of industries that utilize lactic acid, such as food and beverages, personal care, pharmaceuticals, and bioplastics. The region’s robust manufacturing and consumer markets provide a favorable environment for the growth of the lactic acid market.
Additionally, advancements in production technologies and the availability of raw materials, including corn-based feedstocks, contribute to the expansion of the lactic acid market in North America. The region’s well-established infrastructure and supportive government policies further promote market growth and innovation.
Moreover, increasing investments in research and development activities, as well as collaborations between industry players and research institutions, drive advancements in lactic acid applications and production processes, fueling market growth in North America.
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Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) Market Key Players
Major key players operating in the lactic acid market Corbion (Netherlands), Cargill, Incorporated (US), Galactic (Belgium), Unitika Ltd (Japan), Henan Jindan lactic acid Technology Co., Ltd. (China), TORAY INDUSTRIES, INC. (Japan), and Sulzer Ltd (China).
NatureWorks LLC is jointly owned by PTT Global Chemical (Thailand) and Cargill (US). NatureWorks LLC is one of the leading PLA suppliers and innovators with its Ingeo product portfolio of naturally advanced materials. It manufactures PLA from greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and plant derivatives such as corn, cassava, sugar cane, and beets. The company has a broad portfolio of PLA performance material Ingeo, which is used in various end-use industries such as food & beverage packaging, agriculture, building & construction, electronics, medical & hygiene, consumer goods, textiles, 3D printing, coffee capsules, cards, and non-food packaging. PLA-based performance materials are ideal for fresh food packaging and foodservice-ware applications.