The chemical industry is one of the most diverse industries and is concerned with the manufacture of a wide range of solid, liquid, and gaseous substances. It converts raw materials — such as oil, natural gas, air, water, minerals, and metals — into over 70,000 different products and substances. Moreover, the chemical industry is a very important contributor to the GDP of a country. For example, it contributes more than 1% to the gross national product (GNP) of European countries, which is more than 6% of the overall GNP generated by all manufacturing industries.
The COVID-19 outbreak followed by strict regulations and lockdowns has had an unprecedented impact on the global economy and the overall state of the chemical industry, thereby leading to significant losses over the past few months. While the industry was already amidst a cyclical crisis such as pricing pressures, overcapacity, and trade uncertainty prior to 2020, several post-pandemic changes have shown a disorderly character. Chemical companies in the United States have tackled the coronavirus pandemic by focusing on cost management, operational efficiency, and asset optimization.
Over the next few months, the changed socio-political, economic, and environmental expectations are expected to play an even significant role in shaping the future of the chemical industry. To succeed in this ever-changing industry scenario of the chemical market, companies and organizations should consider executing a range of well-defined, strategic initiatives across key functional areas like technology and R&D. Focusing too much on the short-term growth, however, could imply that companies are overlooking the long-term opportunities. This includes major investments in technology, innovation, latest applications, and implementing new business models that result in persistent growth.
A major aspect of effectively handling this scenario in 2021 will be to understand the temporary customer behaviors and those that are permanent, as recovery will probably be uneven across sub-segments and geographies. Companies and organizations will need to address this uncertainty by revising their business models and undertaking robust scenario planning that includes the unknowns.
The chemical industry reported annual sales worth USD 1.8 trillion during the beginning of the 21st century and currently produces more than USD 4.1 trillion in sales annually — leading to robust growth and a remarkable outlook for investment and growth opportunities at a business-to-business (B2B) level. The largest chemical company worldwide is DuPont, followed by BASF and Sinopec. This article will enlist the world’s 7 largest chemical companies in terms of sales and market capitalization to provide you with the best analysis on where to invest and who to collaborate with.
The top 7 chemical companies in 2021 are discussed below, with an emphasis on their revenue and achievements:
DuPont was formed as a part of the spin-off after the merger between Dow Chemical and DuPont, in order to exclusively focus on specialty chemicals. On April 1, 2019, the company was spun off of DowDuPont, following which it became a public company and was a part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company outshined BASF as the largest chemical company in the world in terms of annual sales, after BASF holding the position as the leading chemical company for 12 years.
As one of the top three largest chemical companies in the world, DuPont has a presence in more than 160 companies and is a leading provider of chemical raw materials to several industries. The company’s revenue for 2018 was USD49.604 billion, marking a 13.43% increase from the previous year. In 2019, it delivered sales of approximately USD 43 billion. As of now, DuPont employs approximately 36,500 people worldwide.
BASF held the position of the largest chemical company in the world for 12 years but was outshined in chemical sales by DuPont in 2018. BASF is a German chemical company with annual sales of approximately 74.06 billion and a current market cap of around USD 71.58 billion, making it one of the largest chemical companies in the world.
The company operates its business through chemical, plastic, performance products, agriculture, oil & gas, functional solutions, and biotechnology segments. It's ranking in the overall chemical industry has remained persistent in the top 2 over the last few years. The company produces fertilizers, synthetic dyes, cosmetic bases, pigments, and inks — to name a few.
Holding the 3rd position on BizVibe’s list of the top 7 largest chemical companies in the world, Sinopec or China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation is an oil & gas company located in Beijing, China. The company witnessed a 22% increase in chemical sales — the largest rise among the top chemical companies on the list. Along with oil & gas exploration, the company is also famous for its manufacture and sales of petrochemicals, chemical fertilizers, chemical fibers, and other chemical products.
Currently, the company holds a market capitalization of approximately USD 507.01 billion. In 2019, Sinopec generated revenues of 2.97 trillion Yuan (or USD 46 billion), making it one of the largest oil & gas companies in the world based on revenue and valuation.
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, also known as SABIC, is a Saudi Arabian multinational chemical manufacturing conglomerate, and a subsidiary of the state-owned oil & gas company Saudi Aramco. It stands 4th on the list of the top 7 largest chemical companies worldwide in terms of sales and market valuation. The company is well-known for its chemicals, chemical fertilizers, petrochemicals, industrial polymers, and metal products. SABIC’s sales revenue for 2019 amounted to USD 37.255 billion, while its sales volume increased by 3%
INEOS Group Limited is a U.K.-based multination chemical company ranking 5the on the list of the top 10 largest chemical companies in the world. The company consists of 20 business units, all operating separately. Moreover, it employs 26,000 individuals worldwide as of 2021, specializing in the production and manufacturing of petrochemicals, chemical products, and even plastics. INEOS Group Ltd. registered revenues of approximately USD 16.534 billion in 2019.
Formosa Plastics Corporation (FPC) is a Taiwanese plastics company that specializes in manufacturing and selling olefins, polyvinyl chloride resins, polyethylene, suspension and dispersion PVS, polypropylene, caustic soda, and ethylene dichloride. The company owns about a 30% stake in Formosa Petrochemical.
FPC operates through eight divisions — Plastics, Polyolefin, Polypropylene, Taililang, Chemicals, Calcium Carbide, Public Work, and Distributed Control Systems (DCSs). In 2019, Formosa Plastics reported revenues of USD 6.81 billion, of which the Chemicals division contributed USD 1.006 billion.
ExxonMobil Chemical is a U.S.-based multinational petrochemical company created by the merger of Exxon's and Mobil's chemical industries. The company specializes in the manufacture and sales of petrochemical products and services, including synthetic lubricants, fluids, aromatics, fuel additives, synthetic rubbers, packaging films, olefins, plasticizers, and design services.
ExxonMobil Chemical holds leadership positions in some of the largest-volume and highest-growth commodity chemical and petrochemical products. The company has manufacturing capacity in every major region globally, serving large and growing markets. Over 90% of the company’s chemical capacity is incorporated with ExxonMobil’s refineries or natural gas processing plants. The company reported revenues of USD 957.44 million in 2020.
From breakthrough process technologies to sustainable chemical practices, the chemical industry is in the midst of a comprehensive change. Currently, digital transformation in chemicals is proving to be influential and is expected to present immense, largely unexplored new opportunities to not only boost efficiencies but to assist companies in designing novel products and processes.
By 2020, the world will have the potential to host the healthiest, largest, and wealthiest society in human history. This unexplored potential will not only present new opportunities but also inevitable challenges for the industry and the world, including energy consumption and the need to grow while coming up with new ways to reduce greenhouse emissions.
The chemical industry is expected to be at the top in this revolution as it did during the previous ones; however, it will not be easy to achieve this. Allowing for massive economic development and advanced levels of innovation while addressing the challenges will be a major task. The challenges will be enormous, but the opportunities, prospects, and rewards will be definitely worth the hassle. The chemical industry will play again a significant role during the next few decades and into the upcoming revolution.