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.
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.
In 2004 EFCG raised the first red flags about sub-standard Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) entering Europe from India and China. Twelve years on, it appears that risks to patients from non-compliant bad quality APIs have been substantially reduced and that the playing field is levelling out.
EFCG Press Conference CPhI 2015: "API" day for Europe as Big Pharma returns in search of quality (by Dan Stanton)
EFCG Press Conference CPhI 2015: Outlook in Europe for API Manufacturers is positive, says EFCG