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Natural Surfactants Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Product (Anionics, Nonionics, Cationics, and Amphoterics), By Application (Detergents, Industrial & Institutional, Personal Care, Oilfield Chemicals, and Others), and Regional Forecast, 2021-2028

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI105407



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The global natural surfactants market size was USD 18.16 billion in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with the product witnessing a negative demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a decline of 2.83% in 2020 as compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The market is projected to grow from USD 18.92 billion in 2021 to USD 24.78 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 3.9% during the 2021-2028 period. The sudden decline in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.

Bio-based surfactants may be made from oils and fats through an oleochemical process or carbohydrates, such as molasses, in a fermentation process. These surfactants are used in a variety of materials. The most common are detergents, followed by personal care products, commercial and institutional cleaners. Several well-known producers have entered the industry and are now investing in product development.

Plant oils such as coconut and palm, plant carbohydrates such as sorbitol, sucrose, glucose, and animal fats such as tallows are common sources of oleochemical/natural surfactants. Oleochemical feedstock procurement has witnessed a paradigm shift in recent years. Animal fats have lost ground to vegetable oils, which now include increasing the use of soybean oils.

Decrease in Demand for Cleaning Products amid COVID-19 May Hamper Production

Many nations across the world have implemented national lockdowns as a result of the unprecedented coronavirus health epidemic. Even as they are starting to reopen, preventive precautions such as social distancing are still in effect. A major economic slump would almost certainly be a side effect of these policies.

Natural surfactants are used in various products, from detergents and cosmetics to manufacturing applications like oil and gas. When a large-scale problem is approaching, the industry's diversity of applications may be a hindrance. There has been an extraordinary increase in the use of ingredients in household cleaning items due to COVID-19. Many countries have shut down their hospitality industries, and concerns arise about how quickly they can rebound. Furthermore, many factories, workplaces, and schools in different countries have been closed for weeks leading to lower adoption of cleaning products.

Bio-based surfactants are used extensively in a wide range of upstream manufacturing applications. In the coming months, each of these implementations is expected to adopt distinct trends, and the effect of COVID-19 is expected to vary from one implementation to the next. For example, when oil demand falls, one of the applications that would see the most demand reduction is oilfield and mining. Thus, the decrease in demand from oilfield and cleaning products due to COVID-19 restricts the growth of the bio-based surfactants market during the forecast period. 


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Renewable Petroleum Biotechnology is a Current Trend for Oil & Gas Industry

Petroleum biotechnology has advanced in recent years. This is due to the high global demand for renewable technologies that increase petrochemical processes in the oil industry. The petroleum industry uses large quantities of petrochemical-based synthetic surfactants as mobilizing agents to improve the availability or recovery of hydrocarbons and various extraction, handling, washing, and transportation applications.

On the other hand, bio-based surfactants have various possible uses around the oil refining chain and in petrochemical component formulations, including emulsifying/demulsifying agents, anticorrosive, biocides for sulfate-reducing bacteria, fuel formulation, bitumen extraction from tar sands, and many other novel applications. They are often viewed as useful, flexible instruments that can turn and modernize petroleum biotechnology due to their simplicity and demonstrated efficacy to provide a true image of the state of the art and directions or usage of the oil industry. As a result, they are likely to play an important role in various potential oil industry applications.


Increasing Demand for Detergents to Propel Natural Surfactants Market Growth

Laundry detergents, dishwasher detergents, and carpet cleaners are examples of household detergents available in the market. This industry accounts for nearly half of all-natural surfactant consumption. The primary role of laundry detergents is to strip dirt from fabrics and suspend it in the water during washing. Fabric softeners are applied to the final rinse. Surfactants are used in dishwasher detergents to wet surfaces and aid in soil removal. The surfactant level in automated dishwasher detergents is lower than in hand dishwashing detergents to reduce foaming in the dishwasher. The surfactant level in automatic dishwasher detergents is lower than in hand dishwashing detergents to reduce foaming in the dishwasher. In terms of pounds, automatic and hand dishwashing detergent sales are almost identical.

Consumers in Western Europe and Japan, who seem to be more aware of environmental issues regarding surfactant use, are the first to embrace non-petroleum-based goods. The dramatic rise in the price of crude oil in 2007–2008 piqued the interest of consumer commodity formulators and customers alike in oleochemical-based surfactants.

Environmental issues, regulatory enforcement, and fluctuating oil prices are presently the key drivers of the market adoption. Natural surfactant demand is expected to be heavily influenced by industrial production in detergents and cosmetics, where environmental issues are more prevalent. Since protection is so important in the cosmetics industry, designing formulations naturally is better than using chemical pathways.

The overall demand for natural surfactants is assumed to depend strongly on industrial activity in detergents and cosmetics, where environmental concerns are more prominent. Due to the importance of safety in the cosmetics industry, developing products naturally is advantageous because it is more secure than chemical pathways.


Increased Use of Agrochemicals to Hinder Market Growth

Surfactant raw materials are a crucial topic of debate when it comes to their long-term viability. Surfactants may be manufactured from natural (bio) or synthetic (petrochemical) feedstock or a mixture of the two. Palm kernel oil, for example, is a renewable source of natural surfactant feedstock. Natural feedstock, for example, has environmental considerations to consider in terms of land use, social implications, and crop safety. The increasing use of fertilizers and pesticides is usually needed for renewable resources. Making land available for growing crops also necessitates natural forest clearance or a shift away from food production.

So, when it comes to raw material sustainability, the surfactant industry concentrates on gaining a deeper and more complete scientific understanding of the effect of various feedstock sources on goods over their life cycles and optimizing raw material selection for processing.


By Product Analysis

Anionics Segment to Hold a Significant Share of the Global Market

Based on product, the natural surfactants market is segmented into Anionics, Nonionics, Cationics, and Amphoterics.

The surfactant market, which includes laundry and dishwashing uses, is dominated by anionic surfactants. Linear alkylbenzene sulfonates (LAS), alcohol ether sulfates (AES), and alpha-olefin sulfonates (AOS) are the three most common anionic surfactants in terms of volume. Alcohol ether sulfate (AES) and methyl ester sulfonate (MES), the two largest sustainable anionic surfactants, are made from palm or coconut oil. MES is a biodegradable substance that can be used in place of LAS. AES may be used to replace petroleum-based AES as well as other ethylene-based surfactants. Both MES and AES contribute desirable surfactant properties to detergent and personal care products.

Nonionic natural surfactants account for about 35% of all surfactants by volume. Because of their low toxicity, demand for these sugar-based products is increasing.

Cationics have good antibacterial qualities, have good corrosion resistance, and can be used as demulsifiers.

By Application Analysis

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Detergents Segment to Remain Dominant

On the basis of the application, the bio-based surfactants market is classified into detergents, industrial & institutional, personal care, oilfield chemicals, and others.

The detergents segment accounted for the largest share of the global market and is expected to grow rapidly during the forecast period. The demand is expected to rise due to rising washing machine penetration in developing economies. Several vendors attempt to broaden their presence by establishing manufacturing facilities in emerging economies with significant sales opportunities. This trend is bolstered by the increasing use of washing machines in households in developing economies. Completely automated washing machines, for example, were largely preferred by Indian consumers over semi-automatic washing machines. The demand for washing machines is generally higher in cities than in rural areas.

Bubble baths, body washes, hand soaps and cleaners, grooming products, hair shampoos, and oral care products are part of the personal care market. Natural products and ingredients are also common in the cosmetics and toiletries industry. Natural product development segments include infant products, bath and shower products, and hair care. Oral grooming, deodorants, liquid soaps, and skincare are also seeing an increase in organic products.


Europe Natural Surfactants Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)

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The market in Europe stood at USD 6.87 billion in 2020. Europe dominated the market in 2020 and is estimated to maintain its position during the forecast period. Increasing demand for oilfield chemicals and detergents is expected to drive the regional market. The growing adoption of bio-based surfactants attributed to the high awareness regarding the negative effects of chemical surfactants on human health and the environment is one of the major factors driving the market.  Additionally, the presence of a large manufacturing base for personal care products shall support the growth.

North America held a significant share attributed to certain factors, including government legislation and the increasing demand for chemical-free surfactants. The shifting preference of consumers towards natural products and bio-based ingredients due to the potentially hazardous effects of conventional surfactants on the skin is likely to exhibit considerable growth. For instance, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), surfactants that meet the safer choice criteria are acceptable for use in safer choice products. The surfactant chemicals which evade the sewage treatment must fulfill the Criteria for Environmental Fate & Toxicity for Chemicals in Direct Release Product. This is expected to drive the demand for bio-based and natural type of surfactants.

Asia Pacific is one of the rapidly growing regions in terms of industrialization and development. The increasing investment of foreign manufacturers in South-Asian countries like China, India, South Korea, and others to set up manufacturing bases due to the easy availability of raw materials and labor force shall drive the regional growth. Additionally, the growing demand for personal care and detergent products due to a large population shall positively impact the market.

Latin America has experienced considerable growth in the last few decades. A large number of mining activities have substantially increased the demand for detergents and oilfield chemicals. This is expected to fuel market growth and create opportunities for local manufacturers.

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The Middle East and Africa is expected to showcase moderate growth by the end of the forecast period. Increasing petroleum and oil mining activities shall drive the market for natural and sustainable surfactants and surfactant products.


Key Companies to Strengthen Their Market Shares by Adopting Strategic Business Plans

BASF SE, Clariant, Croda International Plc., WHEATOLEO, The Dow Chemical Company, CECA, Arkema Group, SEPPIC, Evonik, and Innovative Chemical Technologies are some of the market's key players.

Industry players operate principally based on the product's price and end-use. To boost their market position and expand global reach, several major players are engaged in numerous planned product launches and global expansion to promote brand and sales. For instance, Sensio is a multi-benefit product, a bio-based nonionic surfactant produced by Arkema Innovative Chemistry with easy biodegradability in aerobic and non-aerobic conditions and non-corrosive labeling.



  • March 2021 – BASF strengthened its position in bio based surfactants for home care and industrial formulators with acquisition. The company in co-operation with Holiferm ltd., based in UK established a strategic alliance to develop a state of art production process for bio based surfactants.

  • August 2020 – BASF announced the launch of 100% naturally derived surfactant under the brand name Lamesoft Balance. The surfactant is voluntarily biodegradable and effectively stabilizes the wax based diffusion in hair and skin cleansing formulations.

  • December 2019 – Evonik Industries and Unilever joined to launch a new green cleaning ingredient. The companies decided to harness a naturally occurring procedure to develop a natural surfactant rhamnolipids, that effectively removes dirt and grease.


An Infographic Representation of Natural Surfactants Market

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The global natural surfactants market research report provides detailed industry analysis and focuses on crucial aspects such as leading companies, products, and applications. Also, it offers detailed insights into market trends and highlights vital industry developments. In addition to the factors mentioned above, it encompasses various factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over recent years. This report also includes historical data & forecasts revenue growth at global, regional, and country levels and analyzes the latest dynamics and opportunities in the industry.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (USD Billion) and Volume (Kilo Tons)


  Product; and Application; Region

By Product

  • Anionics

  • Nonionics

  • Cationics

  • Amphoterics

By Application

  • Detergents

  • Industrial & Institutional

  • Personal Care

  • Oilfield Chemicals

  • Others

By Geography

  • North America (By Product, Application, and By Country)

    • U.S. (By Application)

    • Canada (By Application)

  • Europe (By Product, Application, and By Country)

    • Germany (By Application)

    • UK (By Application)

    • France (By Application)

    • Italy (By Application)

    • Rest of Europe (By Application)

  • Asia Pacific (By Product, Application, and By Country)

    • China (By Application)

    • Japan (By Application)

    • India (By Application)

    • ASEAN (By Application)

    • Rest of Asia Pacific (By Application)

  • Latin America (By Product, Application, and By Country)

    • Brazil (By Application)

    • Mexico (By Application)

    • Rest of Latin America (By Application)

  • The Middle East & Africa (By Product, Application, and By Country)

    • GCC (By Application)

    • South Africa (By Application)

    • Rest of the Middle East & Africa (By Application)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 18.16 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 24.78 billion by 2028.

In 2020, Europe market stood at USD 6.87 billion.

Growing at a CAGR of 3.9%, the market will exhibit steady growth during the forecast period (2021-2028).

The detergents segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

The increasing demand for detergents is expected to propel market growth.

BASF SE, Clariant, Croda International Plc., WHEATOLEO, and The Dow Chemical Company are major players in the global market.

Europe dominated the market share in 2020.

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