PVC pipe demand in water distribution, wastewater and plumbing has increased in the past few years due to the continued recovery in the construction industry, along with ongoing public and private sector investment in a decaying water distribution infrastructure. Total volume demand for PVC pipe grew nearly 12% from 2014 to 2015, led by plumbing (hot and cold water pipe and drainage, waste, vent pipe) where year-over-year growth was driven by new housing starts.
Volume growth in plumbing was tempered by low unit pricing compared to infrastructure demand, specifically municipal water distribution and wastewater where larger diameter pipe commands premium pricing.
These infrastructure PVC pipe markets are not only benefitting from structural tailwinds but also from keen marketing among pipe manufacturers. PVC pipe provides a value proposition that resonates with end users and is well-aligned with such innovation drivers as pipe bursting, trenchless installation and horizontal direction drilling (HDD). Manufacturers are taking direct aim at selling the payback benefits to municipalities to owners and engineers using local reps with the experience and relationships to drive specifications. Spec in hand, pipe manufacturers sell to all distribution points since contractors buy from local distributors. The value creation is all in gaining the specification.
Demand for PVC pipe is expected to continue its current growth trajectory as these products support broad industry trends, including a mid-cycle housing market, increasing municipal budgets for ongoing repair and upgrade of infrastructure projects and continued adoption of innovative and lower installation cost methods.