Latin America Reports

Uruguay Paint Consumption Rises on GDP

By Charles W. Thurston | February 8, 2011

Uruguay’s paint market heats up as the economic recovery continues.

Uruguay’s national architectural paint market is estimated at $45 million, based on consumption of 15 million liters provided by approximately 20 paint companies, according to a recent report by El Empresario, in Montevideo. While the market has not grown much since the economic downturn of 2002, many signs are that growth is back.

The driving factor in such growth is the economic recovery, which tallied an expansion of nine percent last year. That growth rate was the second highest in Latin America, following neighbor Paraguay, with 9.7 percent, according to the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America, or Eclac. And in December, London’s Legatum Institute declared that Uruguay ranked third in the Americas—and 28th globally—after Canada and the U.S. in their annual Prosperity Index.

Foreign investment in Uruguay is also heating up rapidly, with a reported 35 percent jump during the first-half of 2010. Among major new investment projects in Uruguay is an estimated $1.9 billion pulp mill jointly planned by Stora Enso, of Finland, and Arauco, of Chile. Another project being planned is a new port facility for the Rocha area, which could cost up to $2.5 billion. Total foreign direct investment in 2009 was $1.3 billion.

Currently, approximately a third of the total volume of architectural paint consumed in Uruguay is imported, El Empresario indicated, citing statistics analyzed by Urunet, a provider of foreign trade statistics. Among domestic brand paint companies are Pinturas Elbex-Behar, Pinturas Granitol and Pinturas Inca, purchased by AkzoNobel in 2008. Other international paint companies active in the market include Sherwin-Williams, Brazil’s Renner and Argentina’s Sinteplast.

Automotive paint sales also are rising as new car sales break records, thanks to greater purchasing power in the country. Uruguay’s per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) is now the fourth highest in Latin America at more than $10,000, following only Chile, Mexico and Venezuela, and notably ahead of close economic neighbor Argentina. Uruguay’s GDP is more than $32 billion.

While Uruguayan imports of architectural paint are substantial, the country also exports paint ingredients and concentrates, the report indicated. Last year, exports through November amounted to $43 million, with 26 percent of that value going to Brazil and 20 percent going to Argentina. Other destinations for the materials included Chile, with 6.5 percent of the value, Paraguay with 2.3 percent of the value and Venezuela with two percent of the value. Beyond Latin America, Uruguay also exports to countries including Poland and South Africa, according to statistics attributed to Uruguay XXI, the national investment promotion agency.

Among exporters, Inca is notable, both for its 20 million-liter-capacity production facility, and for its one million-liter-capacity distribution center.

New product development is a way Uruguayan paint companies aim to boost sales. Elbex, for example, recently launched a new anti-microbial paint formulation. Another way companies are seeking to spur greater sales is more advertising. Granitol, for example, has produced a variety of television spots, which it also posts to consumer-oriented websites like Similarly, Inca is promoting Colour Futures 2011 to augment sales of the latest fashion in color decoration.