BASF Report 2021

Trends in the Chemical Industry

Global growth in the chemical industry was 6.1% in 2021, almost as high as growth for the industry as a whole, despite only a minimal decline in chemical production in the previous year unlike in many other industries. While the stronger performance in the previous year had mainly been due to extraordinary pandemic-related demand for disinfectants, cleaning agents and single-use plastics, as well as to the early recovery in China, in 2021, the global upswing in many consumer goods industries contributed to growth.

Chemical production in China, the world’s largest chemical market, saw especially strong expansion (+7.7%). However, growth slowed at a high level during the course of the year. Electricity cuts had a negative effect on production, particularly in the third and fourth quarters. Growth in other emerging markets of Asia was also high at around 6.9%.

Chemical production growth in the European Union was also extraordinarily high at 6.0%. A contributing factor was the low basis in the previous year (2020: –2.1%). In addition, the European chemical industry benefited from the fact that availability of global production capacities for basic chemicals was intermittently limited. The Middle East (+6.2%) also recorded solid production growth.

By contrast, significant petrochemical capacities were temporarily unavailable in the United States, in particular. After the cold spell in the first quarter, production on the U.S. Gulf Coast was negatively impacted by hurricanes Ida and Nicholas as well. In total, production in the United States thus only grew by 1.8% in 2021. Chemical production in South America increased by 4.6%.

Chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals) (Real change compared with previous year)







European Union



United States



Emerging markets of Asia






South America