VCI report on the business situation of the German chemical industry in the 3rd quarter 2020

Recovery of chemical business

11. November 2020 | Pressemitteilung

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Increase by 1.9 percent in the industry’s output ++ Rise in producer prices by 0.5 percent ++ Recovery of sales (+2.8 percent) ++ Forecast: more uncertainty due to corona crisis.

 © VCI

After setbacks caused by corona in the 1st half of the year, business in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry recovered in the 3rd quarter 2020. Production in Germany's third largest industry increased compared to the previous quarter. Chemical divisions excluding pharmaceuticals recorded particularly strong growth. The industry’s sales and producer prices also developed positively. However, all indicators were significantly lower than in the previous year.

The global economic crisis is far from over. Meanwhile, the second major infection wave has built up. Many European countries including Germany have massively increased their health protection measures. Against this backdrop, the business prospects of chemical companies recently clouded over again.

VCI President Christian Kullmann comments on the situation in the industry: "After the current recovery, the chemical industry is facing a difficult last quarter 2020. Even though the upswing in the industry was strong, another damper is threatening from corona. Business and society are called upon to contain the infection risk through effective measures and adequate behaviour. The federal government needs to prevent lasting damage to the economy.”


The VCI continues to expect a 3.0 percent drop in production in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry in 2020. With falling prices (– 2.0 percent), the industry’s sales are likely to decline by 6.0 percent to 186.4 billion euros.


Compared to the previous quarter, chemical production including pharmaceuticals rose by 1.9 percent from July to September 2020. Chemical business excluding pharma even grew by 4.9 percent as the demand from industry picked up. Capacity utilisation of plants climbed from 77.5 percent to 81.6 percent.

Producer prices

In the 3rd quarter 2020, prices of chemical products were 0.5 percent higher than in the previous quarter but 2.6 percent lower than in the previous year. Low oil prices and generally weak demand were obstacles to stronger price increases.


From July to September 2020, the industry’s sales increased by 2.8 percent to 43.8 billion euros over the previous quarter. Growth impetus came from domestic business which improved by 3.5 percent. Sales to customers abroad grew by 2.5 percent. European business, which is particularly important for the industry, developed positively.


The number of employed in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry was stable in the 3rd quarter despite the corona pandemic. Most recently, the companies had just under 464,000 staff and secured jobs where necessary. Their measures included short-time work.

Please note:

A short version of the quarterly report 3.2020 can be downloaded here or at the top of this page.PDF | 153 kB | status: 11. November 2020

The VCI represents the politico-economic interests of over 1,700 German chemical and pharmaceutical companies and German subsidiaries of foreign businesses in contacts with politicians, public authorities, other industries, science and media. In 2020, the industry realised sales of nearly 190 billion euros and employed around 464,000 staff.

Contact: VCI Press Dept., Phone: +49 69 2556-1496, E-Mail: and


For questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us.

 Oliver Claas

Contact person

Dipl.-Pol. Oliver Claas

Chemikaliensicherheit, Digitalisierung, Mittelstand, Konjunktur/Wirtschaft