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Trends in key customer industries

Development of industrial production in 2012

  • At 2.4%, growth in global industrial production considerably below previous year’s level (+4.3%)
  • Main causes include recession in Europe and slowdown of economic momentum in Asia
  • Significant growth in transportation sector (+7.0%)
  • Substantial decline in growth in consumer goods industry (2012: +1.5%, 2011: +5.5%)

With an increase of only 2.4% in 2012, global industrial production remained significantly behind the previous year’s growth level (+4.3%) and our forecast (+4.1%). Production growth decreased in both industrialized countries (2012: +0.5%; 2011: +2.1%) as well as in emerging markets (2012: +5.0%; 2011: +7.7%). This was primarily due to the recession in Europe and the slowdown of economic growth in Asia.

Growth in key customer industries in 2012
Real change compared with the previous year
Growth in key customer industries in 2012 (bar chart)

Growth in the transportation sector was significantly higher than in the previous year (2012: +7.0%; 2011: +4.4%). While production in the European Union fell by 2.0% due to weak demand for automobiles, the North American market grew by 12.6%. Significant recovery effects were posted in Japan (+17.1%) after the production outages of the previous year. Production also increased in the emerging markets of Asia (2012: +7.5%; 2011: +6.1%).

At 2.2%, the energy and resources sector grew somewhat faster than in 2011 (+1.7%). While resource use grew less quickly in the emerging markets than in the previous year, it once again increased slightly in the industrialized countries after a decline in 2011.

Growth in the construction sector declined to 2.2% in 2012 (2011: +3.1%). At 5.4%, construction activities in the emerging markets did not increase as sharply as in the previous year (+8.6%). Production stagnated in the industrialized countries (–0.2%); in Western Europe, it even declined by 5.2%. By contrast, the North American market recovered considerably (+5.9%). In Japan, the construction industry benefited from reconstruction after the previous year’s natural disaster (+3.5%).

As a result of the recession in Europe and dampened economic development in Asia, growth declined substantially in the consumer goods industry (2012: +1.5%; 2011: +5.5%). Production in the electronics industry increased by only 2.5% (2011: +8.9%). While textile production in the emerging markets grew by 5.7%, it continued to decrease in the industrialized countries (–3.6%). The paper industry provided a similar picture: At 6.4%, production in the emerging markets rose considerably. In the industrialized countries, however, it fell by 2.3%.

The electronics industry grew at a slower rate compared with the previous year (2012: +2.8%; 2011: +3.4%). In the industrialized countries, production even decreased slightly in electronics for information and communication technology.

Growth declined to 2.0% in the health and nutrition sector (2011: +4.5%) due to weaker development in the food market (2012: +1.9%, 2011: +4.3%). Growth decelerated in the pharmaceutical industry, as well (2012: 2.3%, 2011: +5.2%).

Agriculture grew at approximately the same rate as in the previous year (2012: +1.9%; 2011: +2.0%). While production in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia increased by 3.8%, it declined by 5.1% in the United States as a result of the record drought. Eastern Europe (–2.2%) and South America (–0.9%) also posted production declines.

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BASF sales by industry
Direct customers


Chemicals and plastics | Energy and resources


Consumer goods | Transportation


Agriculture | Construction


Health and nutrition | Electronics