Biosurfactants Market and the Role of Biosurfactants in the Global Market

Published On : Jul 28, 2014

These days there is greater demand for environment friendly products, which is what makes the biosurfactants market a growing market with much potential. Surfactants refer to substances that aim at reducing friction between liquids, or between liquids and solids. They are primarily cleansing agents with attributes similar to that of detergents and possess foam creating properties. Surfactants can be derived from natural sources like vegetable oils and synthetic sources like petrochemicals. Surfactants have an affinity for water and fat based compounds which make them Amphipathic. Surfactants which are of plant origin are known as biosurfactants. However, biosurfactants are not entirely obtained from plants. Even a single plant component makes a surfactant, a biosurfactant.
Demand for Biosurfactants in the Biosurfactants Market
In the year 2011 the worldwide biosurfactants market was worth USD 1,735.5 million and it is likely to reach USD 2,210.5 million by the year 2018 depicting a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 3.5% from the year 2011 to 2018. Europe’s share of market revenue is 53.3% of the entire biosurfactants market worldwide. It is then followed by North America. Europe is a leader in the biosurfactants market from the production and consumption point of view. However, the slack demand in the biosurfactants market is mainly due to high prices.
By 2018, segments like that of personal care and household detergents would contribute greater than 56.8% to the total biosurfactants market. Markets are becoming more aware about the significance of using biosurfactants due to their environment friendly property.
The Current Scenario in the Biosurfactants Market
There is maximum demand for biosurfactants from the European region and consumer awareness is seen in the developing countries. There is great demand for sophorolipids in the global commercial market mainly due to its high productive capacity. Rhamnolipids occupy the second position after sophorolipids and are mainly used in bioremediation and oil recovery. The personal care segment of applying microbial biosurfactants is forecasted to be worth 2.39 million by the year 2020.
Some of the preeminent players in the microbial biosurfactants market include Ecover, Soliance, MG Intobio, Saraya and AGAE Technologies. Some of the well known surfactant producers and marketers include Ecover and BASF-Cognis.
The Global Trends in the Biosurfactants Market
The global market for surfactants is currently very volatile owing to factors like stringent regulatory norms, surging prices of inputs and greater movement towards sustainable development. The overuse of chemical surfactants and the resulting adverse environmental impact has encouraged the overall worldwide demand for biosurfactants. Chemical surfactants are characterized by high toxicity and a non-biodegradable property. 
Biosurfactants are predominantly used in Europe which makes this a leading region with regard to its consumption. Tight government norms have also lead to an increased demand for biosurfactants. The next largest consumer in the biosurfactants market after Europe is North America, followed by Asia Pacific, which has a modest market for plant based biosurfactants. The demand for biosurfactants in North America primarily comes from the cosmetics industry and for Asia Pacific from agriculture and textiles industries.
Another category of environment friendly surfactant is microbial biosurfactant with the central regions being North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. The microbial biosurfactant market is systematically divided into three main product sections – mannosylerythritol lipids, rhamnolipids and sophorolipids besides sorbitan and sucrose esters, methyl ether sulphonates and alkyl polyglucosides. Apart from being applied in areas like food processing, personal care, textiles and agriculture chemicals, the future for microbial biosurfactants market is significant and promising in bioremediation and oil recovery. However, the demand is likely to be affected due to the high prices of this category of surfactants when compared with its plant based and synthetic variants. 
The third category of in the biosurfactants market include specialty surfactants whose demand is one-fourth of the global demand for the same. Anionic surfactants are used predominantly as compared to the other types. Approximately three fourth of the global detergent alcohol is obtained from natural oils and the rest is from synthetic sources.