According to MarketsandMarkets, the global lactic acid market size is estimated to be valued at USD 1.1 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 2.1 billion by 2025, recording a CAGR of 12.8% in terms of value. The global polylactic acid market size is estimated to be valued at USD 786 million in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 1,756 million by 2025, recording a CAGR of 17.4% in terms of value. Emerging markets in upcoming economies such as Asia Pacific and South American countries is going to be a potential market for the lactic acid and polylactic acid. The inclination of consumers toward convenience food & beverages due to busier lifestyle, and rising awareness among consumers to mitigate food wastage has fueled the market for lactic acid as food preservatives.
With a rise in the number of materials, applications, and products, the number of manufacturers and end-users is increasing steadily. A significant increase in financial investments has been witnessed for production and marketing to enhance the development in the biodegradable bioplastic industry. The adoption of the single-use plastics directive by the European Union in 2019 and the publication of the new EU Commission’s ‘European Green Deal’ have led to an increase in the production of bioplastics, which would further intensify in 2020. This has encouraged further research in prominent aspects of the European legal framework for reducing the use of plastics. This would provide new opportunities for the application of bioplastics to achieve a resource-efficient and low-carbon circular economy by the European Union. The EU Commission would provide guidance for the implementation of its single-use plastics directive. Furthermore, initiatives included in the ‘European Green Deal,’ which is a Circular Economy Action Plan, and a framework for bio-based and biodegradable plastics, are projected to be developed in the upcoming years.
The lactic acid and polylactic acid markets in emerging countries also witness higher growth in recent years. In the Asia Pacific region, China and India are projected to record significant growth rates, encouraged by factors such as a shift in industrialization from North American and European countries to the Asian countries. This has led to an increase in the emergence of food manufacturing companies in the Asia Pacific region. Several governments have introduced regulations and frameworks that would also encourage the use of bioplastics as an alternative to toxic plastics. Therefore, these factors also offer a high growth opportunity for lactic and polylactic acid manufacturers globally.
In Asia Pacific, China is a key market for lactic acid and polylactic acid in Asia Pacific; this is highlighted by the rise in organized retail sector. China’s GDP growth has moderated considerably in recent years due to the imposition of tight monetary policies to curb the rising inflationary pressures. Rapid urbanization has been one of the major factors for the growth of the food & beverage industry. Furthermore, the changing consumption patterns and consumers shifting toward ready-to-eat food and frozen food products are driving the demand for lactic acid in food & beverages, and polylactic acid in food & beverage packaging. This is creating opportunities for lactic acid and polylactic acid service providers in the country.
Lactic and polylactic acids play an important role as a catalyst in the processing of several industrial products. These acids have typically been used as bulk industrial applications, such as food & beverages, biopolymers, textiles, packaging, and personal care & cosmetics. The market for lactic acid has witnessed significant growth as it is increasingly used as a substitute for toxic chemicals and plastics, particularly in food & beverages and pharmaceuticals. The application of polylactic acid also witnesses a rise in demand for biopolymers and as ingredients in personal care & cosmetic products.
In the food & beverage industry, lactic acid is preferred over synthetic chemicals, as they alter the flavor, texture, or characteristics of products to increase their shelf life. In the dairy industry, lactic acids are used to coagulate milk and produce cheese flavors. Whereas in the brewing industry, lactic acid improves starch conversion in beer, thereby increasing the yield. In the baking industry, lactic acid help in controlling the acidity of the dough and improving the shelf life of baked goods. Major uses of lactic acid in the food industry are found in cheese manufacturing, baking, confectionery manufacturing, processed meat, and vegetable processing.
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Biodegradable and industrially compostable in nature, polylactic acid is among the first renewable polymers that were able to compete with the existing polymers, combining their functional characteristics, such as transparency, gloss, and stiffness. Polylactic acid is currently used in a wide range of industries, such as food packaging, single-use tableware, textiles, oil & gas, electronics, automotive, and 3D printing. Due to the various and versatile uses of lactic acid across industries, as well as the multi-functionalities of lactic and polylactic acids, the market is projected to witness significant growth opportunities during the forecast period.