FLEXIBLE PU SLABSTOCK FOAM
There are ~160 factories producing flexible polyurethane slabstock foam in Europe (including Russia and Turkey) producing 1.5 million tonnes of foam per annum. You can see where they are by downloading the map on the button bellow.
Of these, 109 plants are located in the European Economic Area, Switzerland and UK. The production in that area is of about 1.1 million tonnes per annum. The vast majority of the foam is so-called polyether foam, with polyester foam representing just about 70,000 tonnes. EUROPUR members collectively produce about 75% of the foam placed on the market in the EEA + CH + UK.
The top 3 producing regions in Europe are Poland, Turkey and “DACH” (Germany, Switzerland, Austria). Together, these 3 regions produce 35% of the European foam output.
About 50% of flexible slabstock PU foam produced in Europe is used in upholstered furniture, 35% in bedding, 10% in transportation and the rest in hundreds of other applications, such as for example kitchen sponges or clothing.
MAIN DOWNSTREAM MARKETS
In total, Europe (including Central-Eastern Europe outside EU) is estimated to produce 23% of the world’s upholstered furniture. According to the European Furniture Industry Confederation (EFIC), the EU furniture industry employed more than 1.1 million people across 127,500 enterprises making products worth 87 billion EUR. The major manufacturing countries in Europe are Poland, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and France, which together provide 85% of total European output. CSIL estimates that e-commerce represents 8% of furniture sales in Europe, with the UK and Germany having the highest penetration.
According to CSIL, the total European production of mattresses is around 50 million units annually. Of those, almost 90% of mattresses contain between 2 and up to 30 kg of polyurethane foam. Innerspring mattress account for about half of European production, foam mattresses 40%, and latex ~7%. The share of PU core mattresses is slowly growing each year, notably thanks to the strong growth of “bed in a box” mattresses.
On average a car contains between 22 and 24 kg of polyurethanes, of which the vast majority is moulded foam used in car seats. Slabstock foam is mostly used as foam sheets, for example for headliners, with an average of about 2.5 kg used in each car. European motor vehicle production was several affected by the pandemic and shortages of electronic components. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), passenger vehicle production fell from 16.5 million units in 2019 to 9.9 million units in 2021. This obviously had an impact on foam usage in this industry too.