Chemical Industry

Chemical products make up one of the world's largest industries, partly because of the ubiquity of chemicals in the products used in everyday life, in addition to the breadth of chemical products that exist. Although the chemicals industry has developed alongside the industrial development of the world, this established industry is undergoing a period of change.

With Asia already standing as the industry’s largest revenue generating region, it is fitting that China will become the center of the world’s chemical industry in upcoming years. Chemical sales growth will likely be challenged by new environmental regulations. Emergent digital technologies may pave the way for increased productivity and shift the existing chemical business paradigms.

Global chemical industry revenue 2019
3.82 trillion U.S. dollars
Chemical industry's largest revenue generating region
Leading chemical company worldwide based on revenue

Market size

The coronavirus pandemic hit the overall chemical industry hard but recovery is on the horizon
Total revenue of the chemical industry worldwide from 2005 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars)
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Prior to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, major chemical companies were already concerned about chemical demand growth. In March, the pandemic’s impact caused chemical shares to decrease by 35 percent worldwide. Overall, chemical revenue dropped by 3.6 percent in 2020, but it is expected to bounce back to approximately four trillion U.S. dollars in 2021, similar to the 2019 figure. In 2021, many of the leading chemical companies reported the highest revenues in years.

Chemical industry worldwide
United States chemical industry
UK chemical industry

Market segments

Basic chemicals is the dominant chemical segment
Value of global chemical shipments in 2019 by segment (in billion U.S. dollars)
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In 2019, basic chemicals, which includes inorganic chemicals, bulk petrochemicals and intermediates, and plant resins, made up the largest value share of global chemical shipments, at 2.18 trillion U.S. dollars. Pharmaceuticals, often counted as a separate industry, is nevertheless the second largest chemical segment. Specialty chemicals, such as brake fluid in the automotive industry, ranked third. Agricultural chemicals and consumer chemicals were the fourth and fifth ranked segments.

Global agrochemical industry
Global paint and coatings industry
Global petrochemical industry

Industry trends

The COVID-19 crisis hit chemical segments differently
Change in chemical production due to COVID-19 worldwide from January to August 2020, by type (in percent)
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Among key trends currently impacting the trajectory of the chemical industry was the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Though the pandemic decreased global chemical shipments in 2020, some segments fared well that year. Increasing industry regulation in the face of climate change is going to be another noteworthy trend impacting chemicals. As an industry that relies heavily on fossil fuels, new ways of manufacturing and recycling technologies will be needed to lower the industry’s carbon footprint.

Coronavirus' impact on the global chemical industry
C02 emissions of global chemical production
Chemical export value worldwide

Industry leaders

Germany's BASF is the world's leading chemical company
2022 ranking of the global leading chemical companies based on revenue (in billion U.S. dollars)
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BASF, headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany, has been the world's number one chemical company based on annual revenue for several years. In 2021, the diversified chemical company's revenue exceeded 78 billion euros (82 billion U.S. dollars). The U.S.-based companies Dow Chemical and LyondellBasell have also consistently been among the top five global chemical companies based on revenue over the past decade.

Leading chemical companies
Dow Chemical

Industry Definition

The chemical industry category offers data on the various chemical segments, including inorganic and organic chemistry, petrochemicals, agricultural chemicals, paint and coatings, materials science and composites, and others. Statista's chemical industry analysis includes production, consumption, and trade figures of a wide variety of chemical products, in addition to the key financial indicators and data about the leading companies in this industry.


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