Separations: Pharma Gives Market a Case of Heartburn

Growth in 2008 for the separations market was nearly two percentage points lower than the original forecast estimates (see IBO 1/15/08) due, in part, to the weakened third and fourth quarters marked by the global financial crisis. In 2008, the separations market accounted for $6.6 billion in revenues and grew 6.6% over 2007. For 2009, the separations market is expected to be soft for the first half of the year, but have a solid upturn in the second part of the year.

Separation techniques are used for analytical and purification applications that span the entire industrial marketplace. Life science–related applications, pharmaceutical and biotech labs, government, and academic research facilities account for the largest portions of the market. While growth in these sectors was modest in 2008, other markets such as the agriculture, food and beverage, and chemical industries performed well.

China, India and the Pacific Rim provided the momentum for growth in the first half of 2008, which resulted in a solid year for separation sales in these regions. The US, Canada, Europe and Japan also exhibited a strong first half, fueled by life science and materials analysis applications. The second half of 2008 was less than spectacular, especially in the US and Europe, as leading industries like the pharmaceutical and biotech industries adjusted strategies and, ultimately, froze instrument purchases.

The HPLC market accounted for the largest segment of the total separations market in 2008. Installations for fast LC systems increased modestly. However, growth for aftermarket products was robust, fueled by new column chemistries and technologies.

GC is the second-largest separations technique, accounting for a quarter of the separations market in 2008. GC is among the most widely used technique in the analytical instrument market and is especially useful in environmental testing, petroleum and forensic applications. Overall, the GC market is expected to grow 2.9% in 2009, fueled by continued growth for agricultural, food and environmental applications.

Ion chromatography (IC) accounts for roughly 6% of the separations market and is heavily focused on industrial and environmental applications. IC was the fastest-growing segment of the separations market in 2008 and is expected to post the fastest growth in 2009. The IC market is expected to be driven by continued expansion in Asia, including Japan. The two IC leaders, Dionex and Metrohm, both introduced compact IC systems last year.

Low-pressure LC (LPLC), which is mostly used in the study of biomolecules such as proteins and monoclonal antibodies in their natural state, accounted for nearly 6% of the market. The LPLC market is dominated by aftermarket products, with the main consumable being media, for which the market leaders are GE Healthcare and Bio-Rad Laboratories.

The demand for capillary electrophoresis (CE) was strong last year, growing nearly 8%. However, growth for CE is expected to be modest this year. Demand from microfluidic-based CE systems is expected to drive growth, especially for life science research applications.

Other techniques represent only a small portion of the separations market. Flash chromatography is expected to grow 4% in 2009, fueled by parallel separations of organic and small molecules. Other separation techniques include thin layer chromatography (TLC), continuous flow analysis (CFA) and chemical sensors, which collectively account for 2% of the market. This segment is expected to grow 6.4% in 2009.

Chart: 2008 Separations Supplier Market Shares

Agilent 19%

Waters 16%

Shimadzu 8%

Sigma Aldrich 6%

Dionex 5%

Other 46%

Separations Instrumentation 2008–09

Market ShareGrowth Rate

HPLC 57.1% 3.1%

GC 25.0% 2.9%

IC 5.7% 7.7%

LPLC 5.5% 4.6%

CE 2.9% 4.6%

Flash 1.6% 4.4%

Other 2.2% 6.4%

Total 100.0% 3.5%

Separations Instrumentation Market Leaders

HPLC Waters, Agilent

GC Agilent, Shimadzu

LPLC GE Healthcare, Bio-Rad Laboratories

IC Dionex, Metrohm

CE Agilent, Beckman Coulter

Flash Biotage, Teledyne ISCO

TLC Camag, Varian

Chemical SensorsSmiths Detection, Alpha MOS

CFA Thermo Fisher Scientific, Seal Analytical

Chart: 2007–10 Total Separations Instrumentation Market

2007 2008 2009 2010

Millions: $6236 $6648 $6883 $7278

Chart: 2008 Separations Market by Product Type


Initial Systems 2769

Aftermarket 3005

Service 874

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