Controlled-Release Technologies: Established and Emerging Markets

Jul 2010| MST027H| BCC Publishing

Report Highlights

  • The global market for controlled-release barrier materials will approach $1 billion by 2015, increasing from nearly $600 million in 2010, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5% for all products worldwide during the 2010–2015 forecast period.
  • The most rapid growth for controlled-release barrier materials will occur in high-income nations, which includes the U.S. and the European Union among others, increasing in value from $366 million in 2010 to $650 million in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.2%. 
  • The United States falls slightly behind other high-income nations with a 10.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for controlled-release barrier materials. This market is estimated at $197 million in 2010 and is expected to reach $319 million by 2015.


  • Describes the basic controlled release technologies used in nonmedical markets.
  • Profiles the major controlled-release technology developers for those markets.
  • Describes global forces shaping future markets for controlled-release products.
  • Describes key patents for methods and materials that impart controlled release.
  • Forecasts 2010 to 2015 demand for controlled-release barrier materials in 27 market segments, for the United States and worldwide.
This report, Controlled-Release Technologies: Established and Emerging Markets, examines the continuing evolution of the use of controlled-release technology in nonmedical applications. Our key objective is to present a comprehensive analysis of the nearly $1 billion global market for controlled-release barrier materials through 2015. To this end, this BCC report furnishes: 
  • An overview of the controlled-release industry, which includes a description of current methods and materials, a discussion of the positive effect of the emerging sustainable agriculture movement and, paradoxically, stricter environmental regulations
  • Profiles of more than 100 companies and research groups advancing the technology
  • Descriptions of more than 125 significant patents granted from 1957 through the first quarter of 2010
  • Forecasts for the six nonmedical industries making greatest use of controlled-release technology: agriculture, consumer products, energy, food processing, industrial products, and infrastructure
  • Forecasts for the United States and globally, with the world, with separate forecasts for high-income, middle-income, and low-income regions
  • A discussion of how controlled-release technology is used in institutional, industrial products, with 2010 to 2015 forecasts for the demand for barrier materials in 27 application-specific markets.
Controlled-release products had rapidly extended their market penetration far beyond products that add timed released characteristics to pharmaceuticals and specialty agricultural products. During that time, accumulated industry know-how and the expiration of many of the original patents have made it economical to add controlled-release components, chiefly engineered polymers, into less expensive products, including commodities. The migration of controlled-release features from high-margin specialty products to low-margin mass marketed products is, of course, characteristic of most advanced technologies. In the case of controlled-release technology, three additional, and on the surface seemingly unrelated, forces have come into play to accelerate the demand for materials that impart sustained or timed delivery characteristics. Those forces are as follows:
  • Steadily escalating petroleum costs
  • Consumer demand for faster meal preparation
  • Sweeping new European Union (EU) rules, and proposed changes in U.S. law, that have begun to force a reevaluation of how once commonly used industrial chemicals will be used in the future
The speed with which those changes will affect the markets for existing controlled-release products led BCC research to prepare an in-depth analysis of the state-of-the-industry in 2006 and its subsequent revision and updating in 2008. The pace of technological development coupled with the rapidly changing economic condition of many core industries prompts the need for a further reassessment of the industry, resulting in this expanded and revised study.
BCC has compiled a study of the markets for the controlled technologies used to manufacture products sold in 27 application-specific market segments within the agriculture, consumer products, energy, and industrial and infrastructure products industries.
This study will be of interest to market planners in industries serving those 27 market segments. It will be equally useful to those in the basic and specialty chemical industries; planners for government and non-governmental agencies that address agriculture, hunger and energy development; and, investors in emerging technologies.
The aim of this study is to examine controlled-release technology with both a floodlight and a spotlight. The floodlight seeks to illuminate the larger global forces that will shape the demand for controlled-release technology through 2015, when BCC anticipates the value of barrier materials that impart controlled-release properties on active agents will approach $1 billion. The spotlight tightly focuses on the demand for barrier materials that impart controlled-release materials in 27 application-specific market segments within the agriculture, food processing, consumer product, and institutional, industrial and energy industries.
Although the materials used to create controlled-release products are sold into niche markets, they have the potential to influence much broader segments of the economy. For example, the shift from standard to controlled-release fertilizers reduces by a third to half the amount of ammonia (NH3) needed to support a given amount of plant growth. Such a reduction is obviously positive for fertilizer producers, but it also affects consumers of natural gas, because as much as 80% of the cost of producing ammonia, the basic building block of nitrogenous fertilizers, is spent to purchase natural gas for use as a methane (CH4) feedstock. 
As products manufactured by the chemical industry, controlled-release materials are subject to varying levels of government regulation, largely depending upon how the products are used. In the past, controlled-release fertilizers received relatively little government scrutiny, while those used to coat or encapsulate food additives were limited to compounds generally regarded as safe, or otherwise specially approved. That predictable past is about to give way to a most uncertain regulatory future. 
The recent decision by the EU to reexamine the safety of scores of chemicals previously regarded as safe has caused much consternation within the chemical industry. Paradoxically, it bodes well for the controlled-release industry. Many of the polymers used as barrier materials to impart controlled-release properties have already undergone extensive study, as part of the process that led to their approval for use in medical application. Those barrier materials are therefore readily available for use in less-critical nonmedical applications. The fact that controlled-release technology per se reduces chemical use makes them additionally attractive from an economic perspective.
As to format, the report is divided into 12 chapters:
  • Chapter One presents an introduction to controlled-release technologies.
  • Chapter Two provides a summary of this report.
  • Chapter Three describes basic controlled-release technologies.
  • Chapter Four describes the global controlled-release marketplace.
  • Chapter Five forecasts demand for controlled-release barrier products in the agricultural market.
  • Chapter Six presents forecasts for the food processing market.
  • Chapter Seven forecasts the consumer products market.
  • Chapter Eight forecasts infrastructure market.
  • Chapter Nine forecasts the industrial market.
  • Chapter Ten forecasts the energy market.
  • Chapter Eleven profiles the more than 100 companies and research groups advancing the technology.
  • Chapter Twelve contains descriptions of some 125 key patents, from the beginnings of the industry in 1957 through the first quarter of 2010.
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this study.
By definition controlled-release materials are binary products, comprising an active agent surrounded by a barrier that degrades in a predictable manner the results in the agent’s “controlled-release.”  The state-of-the-art has reached the point where virtually any chemical compound used in agricultural, consumer or industrial products, from the most delicate fragrance to some of the strongest acids, can be packed in a controlled-release matrix or sphere. 
In this study, as in the two earlier works on this topic, BCC Research presents an analysis of the demand for the most commonly used barrier materials, that is, the materials that impart controlled-release characteristics. Forecasts for those products examine 27 market segments within the agriculture, food processing, consumer products, and institutional, industrial and energy industries. Values are shown to the nearest $1 million. Because inflation rates vary substantially from country to country, forecasts are presented in U.S. dollars, not adjusted for inflation.
To forecast emerging technologies and products, we analyze controlled-release products currently on the market, announced products undergoing field testing, U.S. patents, and products referenced in forward looking financial statements filed with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Forecasts specifically omit products that fall under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as biologics, drugs, medical devices, combination products, dental products, and veterinary products. Controlled-release products for human healthcare are discussed in detail in the BCC Research study titled, Medical Device Coatings (HLC049B).
Values are reported for the United States and worldwide. Worldwide data are further subdivided by the relative development of the country purchasing the product, using World Bank criteria for distinguishing among high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries.
BCC studied more than 500 companies to obtain data for this study. Included were raw material suppliers and manufacturers of finished goods. We also reviewed reports and studies prepared for peer-reviewed professional literature, and reports by the technical staff of the FDA, which regulates products used in agriculture and food processing; the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Geologic Survey, which are involved in oil and gas exploration; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which registers pesticides and toxic substances and their foreign counterparts. In addition, we compiled data from scientific and technical conferences, presentations prepared for financial analysts, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, and the European Commission.
James Wilson prepared the original and revised versions of this study previously published by BCC Research. He is the author of more than 300 articles and several books dealing with science, medicine, technology, and business. Formerly the editor of the Princeton Business Journal and a senior science and technology editor for Hearst Magazines, he is a member of the National Association of Science Writers and American Medical Writers Association. He has served on the adjunct faculty of Temple University and on the staffs of Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.

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Table of Contents & Pricing

All reports provided in PDF format. For shared licensing options (5+ Users), please call a representative at (+1) 781-489-7301 or contact us at
Title/Chapter NamePagesPrice Member Price
Full Report: Controlled-Release Technologies: Established and Emerging Markets254 $2,750 Free
Chapter- 1: INTRODUCTION6Free
Chapter- 2: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY2$250Free
Chapter- 5: THE AGRICULTURE MARKET34$368Free
Chapter- 10: THE ENERGY MARKET7$76Free
Chapter- 12: KEY CONTROLLED-RELEASE PATENTS, 1957–201059$639Free
Published - Sep-2006| Analyst - Jim Wilson| Code - MST027G

Report Highlights

  • BCC projects that sales of controlled release materials will be $553.25 million in 2006, and will rise to $572.80 in 2007. Over the course of the 5-year forecast period, sales will increase at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 6.6%, reaching $787.46 million in 2012.
  • The market can be broken down into four different sectors: agriculture, food processing, consumer products, and infrastructure/industrial/energy. Of these four, agriculture has by far the largest market share, with 27.5% in 2006. By the end of the forecast period it will reach $259 million, almost 33% of the total market.
  • Food processing has the highest growth rate through the forecast period, with an AAGR of 7.8%. The next highest AAGR was food processing at 7.4%.
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