McKinsey Quarterly

Climbing the curve quickly in petrochemicals

Consumption takes off fast in emerging markets. One reason? Plastics.

In emerging markets, rapid growth often begins when consumer incomes reach a threshold that can vary considerably across different products and industries. Petrochemical sales rise most rapidly as GDP per capita approaches $10,000. This relatively low level reflects the fact that less expensive consumer goods and the early stages of industrialization significantly raise levels of plastics use (and thus petrochemical sales) as markets start developing. Over the next decade, 60 percent of petrochemical demand will flow from emerging markets, including China.

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