Polymer producers attempt to restrict price reductions and take action to choke output.

A further crash in aromatic feedstocks, including benzene and SM styrene monomer, was accompanied by a larger than expected reduction in C2 ethylene and C3 propylene olefin feedstock contract price for September. Over the past two months, the price of SM has fallen by over £660 per tonne and benzene by an incredible £830 per tonne.

In the case of polypropylene and polyethylene, producers are making valiant attempts not to pass through the entire reduction in monomer prices, citing the need to restore margins in a situation where it is difficult to even cover variable costs.

In addition to official announcements of cutbacks to output rates, it is expected that many producers are limiting production rates in order to restore the supply/demand balance back in their favour. This has been witnessed before in previous economic crises such as 2008 (Banking Crisis) and 2020 (Covid-19 Pandemic), when the situation of oversupply was corrected within a reasonably short time period.

The massive reduction in benzene feedstock will impact both styrenic polymers and a range of engineering polymers. This is an important aromatic hydrocarbon compound, which is the basis for the following intermediates:

Of which ethylbenzene, cumene and cyclohexane are precursors to key monomers including SM (styrene based polymers), Bisphenol A (PC) and HMXDA (PA66).

Whilst the more standard polymers markets such as PS, ABS and SAN are likely to react in a similar manner to polyolefins, engineering polymers tend not only to be influenced by input costs, but also are heavily influenced by the global economic situation and this is likely to apply strong downward pressure, although this will take some time to filter through to market prices.

For many plastics converters, the timing of the fall in polymer prices may prove to most fortuitous as most face a massive cost increase in the form of higher energy bills.

Monomer Price Movement
Change (Contract)
C2 (Ethylene)
C3 (Propylene)
SM (Styrene Monomer)
Brent Crude
Exchange Rate

Mike Boswell
Managing Director – Plastribution Group

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Q1 2022


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Q2 2022



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Pricing in September continued the downward trend of recent months hitting new lows not seen for 18 months.

Both C2 and C3 monomers dropped by significant amounts on the back of very weak downstream demand. C2 ethylene dropped €120 / MT and C3 propylene dropped €165 / MT. In many cases, these falls were reflected in new September pricing. Virtually all polyolefin grades continue to be in an oversupply situation and even with output cuts by all major producers, the market is still very long. It remains to be seen if the market picks up sufficiently in September following summer shutdowns in Europe to return some balance to the market.

Prices at these levels are unsustainable with a negative gap from monomers to polymers. Spot homopolymer is €1,225 / MT compared to €1,230 / MT for Propylene.

With energy costs soaring for producers, difficult decisions will need to be made in the coming months as to whether shutting down an asset is less damaging than selling at big losses.

Some possible signs of recovery with reports from markets beyond Europe of a pickup in activity so it is hoped that we are at the bottom of this pricing cycle correction. However, with global economies still anticipating challenges to come, it remains to be seen if we’re seeing recovery or just a stop to the current downward trajectory.

Ian Chisnall
Product Manager – Polyolefins

Polyolefins Feedstocks
£/Metric Tonne by month

No Data Found



LDPE pricing dropped in September by approx. £80-100 / MT as August had seen a price correction beyond monomer. Market price appears to be £1,230-£1,300 / MT with larger volume spot deals around £1,200 / MT and specialist grades still over £1,300 / MT.
Material is readily available though some prices quoted are only for delivery at the end of the month.



LLDPE pricing has dropped roughly in line with monomer, but there have been special deals available for volume buyers.

Market price around £1,100 / MT. Material readily available with imports from USA and Middle East either arriving now or in the next 2 months at competitive pricing.

With some suggestion that with China looking to open up again, cargoes could move East rather than to Europe. C6 LLDPE fell further and narrowed the gap to C4 as material became more available. Prices of £1,220-£1,250 / MT were reported.

Metallocene continues to be competitive with strong availability and suppliers looking to move volume. £1,330-£1,400 / MT was seen as indicative.



HDPE has dropped by around the price of monomer into September.

Some grades have fallen further, with blow moulding grades that were stronger in August falling further to now sit around £1,120-£1,250 / MT, although many are still marked-up higher than this.

Film grades have dropped less as there seems to be a short-term supply issue after traders dumped stocks in August. These grades have been reported at £1,150-£1,200 / MT.

HD injection grades were seen at £1,130-£1,180 / MT. As with LLDPE, we rely heavily on imports and although we’re seeing good supply at present, a slight uptick in China demand will see shipments heading that way.



PP fell by monomer in many instances though some suppliers sought to limit the reductions in the face of very high energy costs and negative margins.

It remains to be seen if the latest attempts to push through an “energy surcharge” will be successful this time around. Supply is still plentiful and with some suppliers and traders in “fire sale” mode, deals were there to be done.

Homopolymer was reported at sub £1,000 / MT for very large volume deals. Market price was seen closer £1,080-£1,150 / MT.

Copolymer prices were better with some indications of slightly eased demand than recent months. Pricing of £1,150-£1,280 / MT was widely reported and spot deals for volume not on offer.

Much of the industry talk is on operating rates with cuts of 15-30% either already in place or imminent.

Other Polyolefins

EVA pricing moved down by monomer at least and in some cases more as producers looked to recover sales following restricted allocations and Force Majeures.

Vinyl Acetate Monomer is expensive to produce at current energy price levels so supply may be hit again before the end of the year.


Andrew Waterfield
Product Supervisor – Styrenics

Styrenics Feedstocks
£/Metric Tonne by month

No Data Found



SM crashed down by €509/T in August. Generally, this reduction was passed on in full for PS. Despite the reduction, PS prices were high compared to historical levels. This, combined with economic worries, curtailed demand.

Monomer supply was good as imports supported local grade availability, but PS was short as producers cut output to match poor demand.

SM has taken another steep fall in September dropping by €287/T. Supply and demand are mirroring August. despite it being the end of the holiday season, no significant uptick in demand is expected.



August delivered a sharp decrease due to the SM drop. Other monomers changed very little. Supply was normal with no major outages, but demand is restrained for the same reasons as PS.

September shows no change to the trend. SM has dropped again and other composite monomers only show a small change. ABS production is cut and imported volumes will remain low as prices remain in freefall.

With no end to falling prices in sight, end users are holding off buying as long as possible. It is unlikely demand will recover in September.



As usual, PC/ABS price is following the trend of ABS.

Other Styrenics

SAN and specialities such as ASA and SMMA continue to follow the price trend of ABS.

Engineering Polymers

Sharron Jarvis
Product Supervisor – Engineering Polymers

Engineering Polymer Feedstocks
£/Metric Tonne by month

No Data Found



Energy and transportation cost increases continue to be pushed through in September.

Announcements of force majeures and cutbacks in Europe could impact supply, however demand remains weak in both the automotive and EE sectors so it is anticipated that overall, supply will be adequate to fulfil the limited order books.



Larger cost increases announced last month proved difficult to push through due to exceptionally low demand.

Producers are cutting back on production to stop prices from falling – with maintenance turnarounds and force majeures in place, supply remains restricted.



European production has improved slightly, and with lower demand from the automotive and building sectors there is some downward pressure on pricing.



A large downward adjustment was made to the benzene contract in August of Euro 663/mt and September has seen a further decrease of around Euro 300/mt.

Weak demand due to the holiday season and greater supply coming in from Asia means prices are starting to fall on standard grades.

The more specialised grades are holding their own due to continued restricted supply of intermediates, so prices remain high but stable.



Supply of MMA is still restricted and there are likely to be further increases into the final quarter of the year. High energy costs are expected to further increase prices.



Improved availability of feedstocks and weaker demand are starting to put pressure on pricing; however, producers are implementing production cutbacks to balance out supply and demand in order to halt any further erosion of prices as they contend with higher energy costs

Other Engineering Polymers

The situation for other engineering grades remains complex, difficult to predict and depends very much on the material type, but shortages and cost increases are still the norm generally.

Contact Mike Boswell

Managing Director – Plastribution Group

Contact Ian Chisnall

Product Manager – Polyolefins

Contact Andrew Waterfield

Product Supervisor – Styrenics

Contact Sharron Jarvis

Product Supervisor – Engineering Polymers

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