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Prospect of the Lactic Acid and Derivatives Industry in China

Date:18-12-2013

In recent years, the demand for lactic acid in China has increased, mainly because of its use in a number of industries. Lactic acid is used in the food and beverage industry, primarily in the fields of liquor brewing, meat processing, wine making, preserving condiments and processing milk and milk products. It is also used in the production of lactate solvents and lactic acid based biodegradable polymers. Nowadays, lactic acid is also widely used in the production of various cosmetic, personal care and pharmaceutical products.

Market Overview
In China the lactic acid capacity has continued to increase and during the period from 2007-2011, the compound annual growth rate in the market was 22.7%. In spite of the high capacity, the annual output of lactic acid of most manufacturers was below their expected annual capacity. This was mainly due to limited demand in the market which led to a high idle capacity rate. From 2010 to 2011, the idle annual lactic acid capacity in China was around 110, 000 tons. In 2012, the capacity of lactic acid in China was 329,000 tons and the output was 226,000 tons.

There are many local enterprises in China’s lactic acid industry. The key players in the market are Chongqing Bofei Biochemical Products Co. Ltd., Zhejiang Hisun Biomaterials Co. Ltd, Wuhan Sanjiang Space Good Biotech Co. Ltd, Xiaogan Kaifeng Bioengineering Co., Ltd. and Henan Jindan Lactic Acid Technology Co. Ltd. Two companies, Henan Jindan Lactic Acid Technology Co. Ltd. and Chongqing Bofei Biochemical Products Co. Ltd. have the largest lactic acid capacity in the country. In 2012, the combined capacity of the two companies accounted for around 53.2% of China’s lactic acid production. Together, the two companies produced around 175,000 tons of lactic acid in the market.

The food and beverage sector in China is the highest consumer of lactic acid and in 2012 this sector consumed around 61,000 tons of lactic acid. This accounted for 49.2% of the total lactic acid consumption in China. Other industrial fields such as electroplating, leather manufacturing and polylactic acid production accounted for 36.1% of the total consumption. Derivatives of lactic acid which include polylactic acid, lactate salts and lactic esters are also witnessing high growth.

In the future, the demand for lactic acid from industrial application end-user sector is expected to increase and surpass the demand from the food and beverage sector.

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