El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Plastics

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-09-30

Overview

 

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 (Est.)

Total Exports

366,7

402,2

388,9

392,8

Total Imports

789,1

763,0

683,9

690,8

Imports

from the U.S.

190,9

 

181,1

 

154,8

156,3

Total Market Size

422,3

360,7

295,0

298,0

Exchange rate

U.S. Dollar

U.S. Dollar

U.S. Dollar

U.S. Dollar

Units: $ millions

Source: Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador. Note: No reliable source for local production.

Although El Salvador lacks petroleum reserves, the country is the second largest supplier of plastics products in Central America after the U.S., which makes the plastics industry an important industrial sector in El Salvador. The plastics sector represents 4% of the manufacturing industry in El Salvador. The five largest areas of production are beverage bottles (23.4%), plastic bags (16.5%), plastic packaging (19.1%), plastic tableware (8.4%) and other plastics products (7.3%). El Salvador has become the Central American leader in exporting plastic bags, plastic beverage containers, and plastic packaging. 

The sector was heavily impacted in 2020 due to slowdowns in manufacturing and exporting.  The industry faced a decrease of 5% of the total plastics exports compared to 2019. During Covid-19 emergency period a limited number of plastic manufacturing companies received permission to operate. Some have also shifted production to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) such as: safety glasses, biohazard bags, disposable full-face shields, gowns, gloves, biosecurity footbath recipients, plastic hats, and other products in high demand.

The United States is the largest provider of plastics products and equipment to the Salvadoran market.  Main competitors of plastics machinery and equipment include: China, Guatemala, México, Canada, Colombia, Taiwan, and Brazil.

Salvadoran companies continue investing in new technologies and implementing new techniques to improve their productivity and efficiency in the plastics industry.  According to the statistics by the Salvadoran Industry Association (ASI), the most exported plastic products are plastic furniture (USD$13.0 million), polymers and other primary forms (USD$9.4 million), plastic brooms (USD$9.8 million), plastic shoes (USD$7.5 million), plastic gloves and protective clothing (USD$0.5 million) and plastic face shields (USD$0.5). The leading export markets for Salvadoran companies include Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the United States.

As per the ranking report of the Salvadoran Industry Association (ASI), the top exporting companies in the plastics industry are:

  1. San Miguel Industrias PET
  1. Termoencogibles, S.A. DE C.V.
  2. Carvajal Empaques El Salvador S.A. de C.V.
  3. Grupo Ravicorp
  4. OPP Film El Salvador, S.A. de C.V.
  5. Sigma Q
  6. Smurkfit Kappa-Celpac, S.A. de C.V.
  7. Tubos y Perfiles Plásticos, S.A. de C.V.
  8. Salvaplastic, S.A. de C.V.
  9. Polybag, S.A. de C.V.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Leading equipment and materials in the plastics industry include resins, equipment for sacks and bags of ethylene polymers, polyethylene, ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers, plastic tubes, pipes, plastic hoses, self-adhesive sheets, and thermoforming machines. Operators in this sector must regularly invest in updating their machinery and operations to remain competitive and increase their exports. It is anticipated that equipment imports needed by the industry for their products will continue to grow.

The Salvadoran Plastics Industry Association (ASIPLASTIC) runs a plastic recycling program called “Eco Amigos”, which is committed to providing information to other companies on how to separate and recycle plastic and reconvert it into new products.  Equipment and technology for plastic residue and disposal has strong potential in the market.

Opportunities

El Salvador represents an opportunity for U.S. exporters of equipment and materials in the plastics industry, especially in the manufacture of energy efficient plastic processing machines that save time and minimize waste.  The use of bio-based plastic materials is growing in El Salvador and there is a niche for machinery that processes durable bio-based plastic products and for raw material providers.

In 2019, the Integral Management of Waste and Promotion of Recycling Bill was approved by the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly. The implementation of this law allows recycling companies to operate and manage programs to reuse and recycle different types of waste in a responsible manner and promotes a circular economy. There will be opportunities for U.S. suppliers of plastics recycling and transforming products, grinders, and shredding machines.

Following are additional opportunities for U.S. companies to meet potential buyers from El Salvador:

  • NPE 2024-The Plastics Show – Orlando, Florida – May 6-10, 2024

Resources

  • Salvadoran Industrial Association (ASI)
  • Salvadoran Industrial Plastic Association (ASIPLASTIC)

Central Reserve Bank (BCR)

Interested parties may contact Commercial Assistant Sandra Hernandez at sandra.hernandez@trade.gov