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Chemical & Plastics Prices – 2023 & Outlook


2023 was a very good year for purchasing, where most products showed price decreases. This is in contrast to 2022, which was one of worst years for purchasing over the last 16 years.

In August of last year, my article, Chemical & Plastics Prices – 2023, published by Buyers Meeting Point, provided price analyses from mid-year 2023 back to 2022. The article also predicted, based on third-party data, that overall, 2023 prices would decline. So, how’d we do?  Except for Inorganic Chemicals, all products continued their decline during 2023.


For this analysis, I have used price data from Intratec, which publishes monthly Import/Export prices by country.

Even though Import/Export prices are lower than the market, they remain good reference points because they reflect changes in the market on a monthly basis.

This article reflects on the changes in price from 2022 to 2023 in the USA, Europe, and Asia in four areas:

  • Organic Chemicals: 106 products (Acetone, Acrylonitrile, Benzene, Cumene, and others)
  • Inorganic Chemicals: 75 products (Caustic Soda, Carbonates, Sulfates, Phosphates, and others)
  • Polymers: 45 products (ABS, PET, PE, PP, and others)
  • Naturals: 14 products (Menthol, Saccharin, Sorbitol, and others). Note: Intratec stopped publishing Naturals prices in August 2023; however, it was possible to compare with 2022.


Based on data published by World Bank Commodity Price Data (The Pink Sheet), I observed that all commodities declined in 2023.

Picture1 Paulo2024

Energy: This commodity (composed of Crude Oil, Natural Gas and Coal) showed a 42% decrease compared to 2022, led by Coal, which was more than double the price recorded a year prior (2021).

Metals: Metals saw a 14% decrease compared to 2022 because of increasing input costs for raw materials such as iron ore, scrap metal, coke, aluminum, and zinc in 2022.

Agro: Agricultural commodities saw a 7% decrease compared to 2022 because farmers continued to produce at near record levels, creating surplus commodities that sent prices plummeting.

Meat: Beef, Chicken, and Fish showed a 17% decrease compared to 2022, due to an all-time high in June 2022.

Price Movement

For the price evolution of raw materials, the graphs below show values by region on the left margins. You will observe the comparison price overlay of crude oil (in black) with dollar values on the right margins.

Picture2 Paulo2024

2023 Prices

Because the above line graphs present some difficulty in comparing prices, I include the following bar graphs in percentages to analyze the average prices of 2023 compared to all of 2022.

Picture3 Paulo2024

After Crude Oil, Organic Chemicals showed the biggest decrease in this period, which affected a decrease in Polymers. Natural Chemicals also showed a price decrease across all regions.

For Inorganics, the averages showed an increase in the first half of 2023 compared to 2022, with a decline in the following months. The bar graph showing an increase in 2023 is due to the first quarter of 2022 where prices were very low, affecting the 2022 average.

2024 Outlook

Looking at four different sources, there are important predictions we can make for Chemicals & Plastics for 2024.

  • Wall Street has decreased its 2024 Crude Oil (WTI) projections to $72 (versus $76 in 2023).
  • JP Morgan’s Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) shows a continuous decline reaching below 50 index points, indicating a contracting economy.
  • According to the American Chemistry Council, “Overall industrial production was off 0.4% Y/Y. Capacity utilization fell by 0.5 points to 78.9%, its lowest level since December 2022.”
  • The World Bank expects 2024 global growth to slow to 2.4 percent, for a third consecutive year of deceleration.

Based on the above information, I believe that prices of Chemicals and Plastics will decrease, or at least maintain the current low levels of 2023. This is, once again, an excellent time for sourcing.

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