Soda ash is used as an additive in FMCG products such as cosmetics, home detergents, and cleaning products. In addition, soda ash is used as a substitute for sodium hydroxide in cooking for lying especially with lye rolls and German pretzels. On a global scale, more than one half of the currently produced soda ash is used for the production of glass. Moreover, continuous innovation in the formulation, technology, and product development are collectively promoting market growth. 

The Soda Ash market is expected to reach $20 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 3%. Glass industry tends to be the fastest growing sector in the global soda ash industry owing to the construction industry. In particular, the Asia-Pacific and Europe regions are expected to witness rapid growth owing to construction projects, and fueled by investment in construction. 

The glass industry is a R&D initiated industry where technologies are continually being improved to ensure faster and cheaper production of more sophisticated products. Further, technical specialty, and functionality glasses are continually being introduced to the market e.g. security, multi-laminated and self-cleaning glasses. As the construction, automotive and consumer packaged goods industries employ new technical and functional requirements for their glass products, which is increasing the demand for the high quality soda ash. Scientist at Tata Chemicals Limited have found a way to remove fluorine form trona which is a naturally occurring ore containing soda ash. The soda ash produced at Magadi facility in Kenya contains 0.5 per cent to 3 per cent of fluoride, which limits its industrial applications. This technological advancement will help them in removing impurities and will boost the Kenyan soda ash market. 

Key Insights on Soda Ash Market
  • The escalating demand for soda ash in water treatment has fueled its overall growth. Soda ash prevents hard water from bonding with detergent, thus allowing a more even distribution of the cleaning agent during washing. Moreover, the infusion of soda ash in detergents helps in removal of grease, alcohol, and other common day-to-day stains from clothing.
  • The glass industry is estimated to account for more than 49% of the worldwide demand for soda ash by 2025. Dense soda ash is an important industrial chemical and is widely used in the manufacture of various products, whereas light soda ash is used as a pH regulator and buffering agent in multiple industrial processes in the chemical Industry. 
  • The rise in demand for soda ash has forced the manufacturers to expand their production capacity. A large proportion of new capacity is planned to be open in the U.S. Chinese producers who traditionally export to global markets are facing increasing competition from this drastic change, as much of the new US capacity is focused on the export market rather than the domestic market. Moreover, the rise in demand for soda ash has directly up surged the prices with tightening market. 
  • Solvay has announced plans to invest €48m to modernize gas cogeneration units in its soda ash and bicarbonate facility in Bernburg, Germany. The investment will enable the company to strengthen the facility and supply high quality soda ash and sodium bicarbonate. The company is planning to increase its soda ash production by 500ktpy and its sodium bicarbonate production by 100ktpy by 2021. 
  • Growth in the soda ash market is majorly contributed by the glass segment, followed by the FMCG and personal care industry. Adding on, the flat glass application under glass segment held a major segment share of 55% of the global soda ash market. 
  • Asia Pacific accounted for the largest market share, with a revenue of $8 billion, in 2018. The global production capacities of soda ash are estimated at about 65 million tonnes per year of which 53% is produced in Asia. APAC is the largest soda ash consuming region, with China as a major producer and consumer. The growing construction sector along with the increasing automobile sales in the emerging nations of APAC have further boosted the market for soda ash.
  • The remaining potential is between Europe and North America which possess comparable production capacity. The demand for soda ash is estimated approximately 11 million tonnes per year. 
  • Globally, synthetic soda ash is fulfilling the demand which accounts for about three fourths of the global supply. Whereas, the natural mineral mined soda ash provides about one-quarter of global supply.  

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There are multiple products in the market involving soda ash. Further, capacity expansions by leading vendors including Tata Chemicals Ltd., Solvay, and others will fuel the market growth during the forecast period. Soda Ash manufacturers have utilized mergers and acquisitions (BASF and Toda Kogyo joint ventures), as well as selling of business unit (FMC sold its Alkaline Chemicals to Tronox), and leveraging companies to gain a foothold in the markets.

Globally, about 47 billion tons of soda ash is mined from 56 billion tons of bedded trona brines, which are a primary source of natural soda ash.  According to U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. has the biggest commercial reserves of natural soda ash. In 2018, the total value of domestic natural soda ash produced in U.S. was estimated to be around $1.8 billion. In 2017, U.S. exported 6,900 MT of soda ash of which Asia was the largest importer at 42%, followed by South America at 26%, North America (Mexico & Canada) at 20%, Europe at 7% and other regions at 5%. Based on the  U.S. Geological Survey 2018 quarterly reports, the estimated distribution of soda ash in the U.S. by end use was glass, 48%; chemicals, 30%; distributors, 6%; miscellaneous uses, 6%; soap and detergents, 5%; flue gas desulfurization, 3%; pulp and paper, 1%; and water treatment, 1%.

Moreover, in future Turkey will emerge as one of the key producers of soda ash globally.  Soda ash production in Turkey rose in 2018 where total production capacity is estimated to be between 4 million and 5 million tons. Further, soda ash shipments, especially exports, are expected to increase significantly over the next few years.

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