15 Largest Chemical Companies in the World

In this article we take a look at the 15 largest chemical companies in the world.  Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 largest chemical companies in the world.

The largest chemical companies in the world are the leading players in the complex chemicals industry sphere. It takes into purview the chemicals sector in its entirety including commodity petrochemicals to specialized chemical products.  The chemicals industry comprises companies that are engaged in production of  industrial chemicals, and therefore, it’s an industry a whole lot of other industries are dependent on as a source of their raw materials. The GICS classification further breaks down the industry into sub-industries of Commodity Chemicals , Diversified Chemicals, Fertilizers & Agricultural Chemicals , Industrial Gases, and Specialty Chemicals. Chemicals producers can hence be positioned in a wide range of products and catering to a varied stream of industries – from fertilizers for the agriculture industry to users of high value-added chemicals, ultimately producing fine chemicals, additives, advanced polymers, adhesives, sealants and specialty paints, pigments and coatings. Usage of chemicals is prevalent in 96% of manufactured goods, and we can easily gauge how indispensable such an industry is to the smooth movement of the economy.  

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) notes that 25% of the U.S. GDP is supported by this very industry, and the US also provides 14% of the world’s chemicals. Big players in the country include Dow (NYSE:DOW), LyondellBasell (NYSE:LYB), Linde (NYSE:LIN) and DuPont(NYSE:DD). Following the merger of Dow and DuPont in 2017, it briefly became the leading player in the global chemicals market. The company’s 2018 revenues were as high as 86 billion in even surpassing BASF’s revenue for the year. The company however, went on to be split into three separate units – Dow, DuPont and Corteva, specializing in commodity chemicals, specialty chemicals and agricultural chemicals respectively. Dow and DuPont continue to have a place amongst the largest chemical companies, post split off. 

Globally the industry’s market size is $2.4 trillion while China has been the global leader in production of chemicals in 2018, contributing 35.8%of global chemical sales in the year. Total sales from the country alone amounted to €1,198 billion in the said year. Undoubtedly, the chemicals industry is also one of the fastest growing industries in the world. According to a report by The European  Chemical Industry Council, World chemicals turnover was valued at €3,347 billion in 2018 as global sales grew by 2.5% compared to 2017.

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However, much like a lot of other heavy industries, 2020 has been a tough year for Chemicals companies. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as demand and sales of chemicals shrunk, most companies have been struggling to keep up sales volumes. This has not only impacted year end performance but as margins were depressed well into the year with lower oil prices and overcapacity in markets, prices took a hit. The sales for the 100 largest chemical companies fell by 4.9% as global manufacturing slowed down and several key chemical markets dealt with overcapacity. Upstream petrochemicals and materials manufacturers have particularly struggled to keep prices and profits afloat in the market slump. The industry, after doing well for the past several years, had already encountered a fall in profits in 2019.  As observed in the Special Report on Top 100 Chemical Companies by ICIS, profits for the  Top 100 chemical companies  fell 17.4% on average in the course of the year, while net income decreased by 46% and several of the top companies experienced losses. Companies worldwide were forced to go through cut backs and react swiftly against the general uncertainty the pandemic brought. 

As economies prepare to recover from the global slowdown, things are starting to clear up for the chemicals industry as well, and experts believe that the performances in the second half of 2020 could possibly bring out better results. However, the profits for the year have already been hit, and the overall performance is clearly going to be a notch down from the previous years. The only way companies can come out strong is by rethinking their efficiencies. It is more important than ever to take efficiency measures and identify opportunities to cut back as a reactive measure. In 2019, US companies were quick to ride the shale boom and channelize investments into production facilities.  

The COVID 19 pandemic is a wake-up call that shows how economies are vulnerable in a crisis. The global chemical market had been going through a sea of change in 2019, due to the oil price crash and was worsened due to the pandemic.  The Top 100 companies generated a revenue of $1tr, which was still significantly lower than in 2018. Amidst the changing scenarios, the largest chemical companies in the world have also been performing under pressure. Our list today summarizes the leading players according to their sales in 2019, giving a picture how each company’s performance has ultimately fared in the global market and where they are currently placed. It is based on ICIS’s report that reports the sales data for major players’ chemical business in the given financial year. As some companies do not clearly 

If you are curious to know more about leaders in other industries, be sure to check out our list of the 11 Biggest Telecom Companies in the World. 

Check out the list of the 15 Largest Chemical Companies in the World:

15. Sherwin-Williams  (NYSE:SHW)

Sales 2019 % change – $17,901 m

US-based Sherwin-Williams is a company operating in paints and coatings. Compared to other chemicals sectors coatings manufacturers were able to show a stronger position in the market in 2020, against the pandemic slowdown. However, the company recorded a net sales decrease of  $273.8 million in the quarter ended  June 30, 2020, as opposed to the same period in 2019. 

Sherwin-Williams Company