Ready to proof - CLJ 6/23/22

Edited by KP 6-23-22

KJ proofed 6/23


By Karen Parker, Associate Editor, Paint & Coatings Industry Magazine, Troy, MI

2021 Was a Good Year for Coatings

By Kristin Johansson, Editor-in-Chief | PCI

Innovation Day

In this issue of PCI, we again publish our annual ranking of the top 10 global and top 25 North American coatings manufacturers, ranked according to 2021 coatings sales. The list of the top 10 global manufacturers remains the same, with PPG and Sherwin-Williams switching the #1 and #2 spots again this year.

In terms of sales, 2021 was a good year for the industry. Companies I contacted were happy to report that their sales increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Within the top 10 manufacturers, every company reported an increase in sales numbers compared to the previous year. 2020 was a singular year in terms of challenges to business overall, including our industry. With that in mind, I also compared sales numbers from 2019 to the 2021 numbers. In that analysis, a slightly different picture emerges. When comparing 2019 sales to the most recent year, about half of the companies among the top 10 have sales in 2021 that exceed those reported in 2019. It seems clear to me that among the top companies in the world, there are still challenges.

Within the top 25 North American manufacturers, sales were also up. Except for two companies that reported the same number for 2020 and 2021, all the smaller North American companies saw increased sales. And when compared to 2019, sales were universally up in 2021. I think this is a good sign for the industry that the smaller, family- or employee-owned companies were able to survive the issues presented by the past few years and see their businesses grow.

The latest market reports covering the coatings industry also see positive signs going forward. Research firm Ceresana released a report in February that stated, “The paint industry is growing out of the crisis.” According to that study, more than 43 million tonnes of paints and coatings were sold around the globe in 2021, which is almost as much as before the pandemic. In 2020, 41.8 million tonnes were sold. The report forecasts a continued recovery, predicting the industry will grow at a rate of approximately 2.3% per year through 2030. Research and Markets released a report in May that paints an even rosier picture. According to that report, the global paint and coatings market size was estimated to be $138,354 million in 2020, $148,069 million in 2021, and projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.51% over the next four years to reach $213,507 million by 2026.

I would choose a forecast somewhere between the two reports. The industry, and the global economy as a whole, have serious issues to contend with. The pandemic is still a factor. Europe is experiencing economic uncertainty brought on, in part, by the war in Ukraine. North America continues to face logistics issues and raw material availability, although improving. Thierry Vanlancker, the CEO of AkzoNobel, pointed to this instability when the company revised its outlook downward for the second quarter based on the “impact of the evolving business environment.” In explaining the change, Vanlancker said, “The current business environment is complex and constantly evolving.”

This is the 15th year that I have assembled this report for PCI, and I must confess that it is only within the last few years that I would claim with some certainty to have expertise when speaking about the industry. That may sound odd, considering I have reported on this industry through very intense periods of consolidation when major companies were absorbing other major companies at a swift rate, through a Great Recession in which the global economy teetered on the brink, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. I have read hundreds of annual reports and corresponded with the owners of some of the largest privately held coatings companies in the country, and I have felt anxiety on their behalf as events in the world presented serious challenges to their business. Within that context, it also might sound odd that my main takeaway from 15 years in this business is that everything is going to be okay. The world is changing and how the economies of the world operate are responding to those changes. Less developed countries are experiencing growth, and with that growth, people need to paint things. More developed countries are facing challenges, such as their culpability and corresponding responsibilities regarding climate change, and to respond to those challenges we will need new, innovative technologies. Through the disruptions created by a changing world, paint is not going away.

If you feel your company has been inadvertently omitted from the Global Top 10 or PCI 25, or if you have thoughts about the ranking, please contact me at I would love to hear from you!