Optical brighteners are compounds that absorb light in the violet or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum and reemit it in the blue region, by a process known as fluorescence. Optical brighteners are also referred to as fluorescent whitening agents or fluorescent brightening agents. Optical brighteners possess properties such as are whiteness and brightness, light fastness, washing fastness, heat resistance, chemical stability, metamerism, low volatility and high solubility in organic solvents. Optical brighteners are mainly used to brighten colors or mask yellowing and are thus, used as detergent whiteners, paper brighteners, as well as textile whitening, fiber whitening, and brightening or color-correcting additives in cosmetics. They are also used in plastics to improve its initial color, provide white end-use products, and increase brightness of black and colored pigmented articles. Optical brighteners are widely used in molded thermoplastics, adhesives, fibers, films and sheets, clear and pigmented lacquers, paints, synthetic leather, printing inks, photo processing solutions, and ultraviolet tracers.
Increasing demand for optical brighteners in various applications such as detergents, plastics, fibers, and paper poses as a major factor driving growth for the optical brighteners market. Stringent government regulations imposed on the use of chemical agents in consumer products due to its unfavorable repercussions on health, poses as a major restraint for growth of the optical brighteners market.
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Among end user, the textile and apparel segment is the largest end user of optical brighteners, owing to its color whitening and brightening effect.
Optical Brighteners – Market Outlook
Europe has the largest market for optical brighteners, owing to increasing demand for optical brighteners in personal care products such as shampoos and soaps, especially in Germany, Italy, and France. According to Plastics Europe, an association of European plastic manufacturers, Europe held a share of 18% in the world plastic production in 2015 and was recorded to be the world’s second largest producer of plastics. Thus, the growing plastic industry, which employs optical brighteners, has in turn, increased the demand for optical brighteners in Europe.
Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market, owing to significant growth of end-use industries such as textiles, consumer products, and packaging, especially in countries such as in India and China. China experiences the largest demand for optical brighteners in its paper industry. Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry established trust, Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) projected the Indian textile industry to reach US$ 123 billion by 2021 and the demand for paper in India to increase by 53%. This, in turn, is expected to augment growth of the optical brighteners market in the region.
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North America experiences significant demand for optical brighteners due to demand for high quality products such as detergents, cosmetics, plastics, and fabrics.
In Latin America, Middle East, and Africa, increasing health awareness and disposal income among the populace are propelling demand for consumer care products, which is in turn, fueling growth of the optical brighteners market.
Major players in optical brighteners market are adopting strategies such as merger and acquisition, plant expansion, and innovation to sustain their position in the global market. 3 V Incorporation , Aron Universal, Archroma, BASF SE, AkzoNobel N.V., Brilliant Colors Inc., Clariant AG, Eastman Chemical Company, Huntsman Corporation, Keystone Aniline Corporation, RPM International Corp., and The Fong Min International Company Limited are some major market players operating in the optical brighteners market.