The Industry


Fine Chemicals are made to high specifications at relatively low volumes (<1000 te) and high price (>>$10 per kg) typically in multi-purpose, batch chemical (or biotech) plants. The sector fits between low added-value commodities and higher added-value specialty and consumer chemicals.


The global market for fine chemicals was estimated to be about $85 billion in 2010 (Ref: "Fine Chemicals: The Industry and the Business, 2nd edition, Peter Pollak 2011, John Wiley").

The largest markets are pharmaceuticals (about $55 billion) and agrochemicals (about $15 billion), with the $15 billion balance spread across another 50+ markets.

For a breakdown of EU chemical sales in 2009 see

Facts & Figures

Given the difficulty of defining a fine chemical, estimates the size of the fine chemicals market vary. Estimates given in Pollak's 2011 book (see reference above) are as follows:

At $85 billion, the fine chemicals global industry (ex-manufacturer level) represents about 4% of the $2.5 trillion chemical industry turnover worldwide. This comprises $55 billion for pharmaceuticals, $15 billion for agrochemicals, and $15 billion for the many other specialty fine chemical markets.

In 2010, it was estimated that the $55 billion pharmaceuticals market was divided between in-house manufacture ($32 billion) and outsourced manufacture ($23 billion). For agrochemicals, the $15 billion market was divided between in-house manufacture ($11 billion) and outsourced manufacture ($4 billion). For other specialty markets, the $15 billion was divided between in-house ($10 billion) and outsourced ($5 billion) manufacture.

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