M-cresol, also known as m-methylphenol or 3-methylphenol, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C7H8O. At room temperature, it is usually a colorless or light yellow liquid, slightly soluble in water, but soluble in solvents such as ethanol, ether, sodium hydroxide, and has flammability. This compound has a wide range of applications in the field of fine chemicals.


Pesticide field: As an intermediate and raw material of pesticides, m-cresol is further used in the production of various pyrethroid pesticides, such as fluazuron, cypermethrin, glyphosate, and dichlorophenol, by producing the pesticide m-phenoxybenzaldehyde. In the pharmaceutical field, m-cresol has a wide range of applications and can be used as a raw material to produce various drugs, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, anticancer drugs, etc. In addition, m-cresol can also be used to prepare medical devices and disinfectants. Fine chemical industry: m-cresol can be used to produce various fine chemical products. For example, it can react with formaldehyde to form m-cresol formaldehyde resin, which is an important pesticide intermediate and can be used to produce fungicides and insecticides. In addition, it can also be used to produce antioxidants, dyes, spices, etc. Other fields: m-cresol can also be used to prepare functional materials, such as ion exchange resins, adsorbents, etc.


1、 Overview of production process and domestic and international differences

The production process of meta cresol can be mainly divided into two categories: extraction method and synthesis method. The extraction method involves recovering mixed cresol from coal tar by-products and then obtaining meta cresol through a complex separation process. The synthesis rules cover various methods such as toluene chlorination hydrolysis, isopropyltoluene method, and m-toluidine diazotization method. The core of these methods is to synthesize cresol through chemical reactions and further separate it to obtain m-cresol.

At present, there is still a significant gap in the production process of cresol between China and foreign countries. Although some progress has been made in the production process of m-cresol in China in recent years, there are still many shortcomings in the control of chemical reactions, selection of core catalysts, and process management. This leads to a high cost of domestically synthesized meta cresol, and the quality is difficult to compete with imported products.

2、 Challenges and Breakthroughs in Separation Technology

Separation technology is crucial in the production process of meta cresol. Due to the boiling point difference of only 0.4 ℃ and melting point difference of 24.6 ℃ between meta cresol and para cresol, it is difficult to effectively separate them using conventional distillation and crystallization methods. Therefore, the industry generally uses molecular sieve adsorption and alkylation methods for separation.

In the molecular sieve adsorption method, the selection and preparation of molecular sieves are crucial. High quality molecular sieves can efficiently adsorb meta cresol, thereby achieving effective separation from para cresol. Meanwhile, the development of new and efficient catalysts is also an important breakthrough direction in separation technology. These catalysts can improve separation efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and further promote the optimization of meta cresol production process.


3、 The global and Chinese market pattern of cresol

The global production scale of meta cresol exceeds 60000 tons/year, among which Langsheng from Germany and Sasso from the United States are the largest producers of meta cresol worldwide, with production capacities both reaching 20000 tons/year. These two companies are in a leading position in the industry in terms of meta cresol production process, quality control, and market development.

In contrast, the number of cresol production enterprises in China is relatively small, and the overall production capacity is relatively small. At present, the main Chinese cresol production enterprises include Haihua Technology, Dongying Haiyuan, and Anhui Shilian, whose production capacity accounts for about 20% of the global cresol production capacity. Among them, Haihua Technology is the largest producer of meta cresol in China, with an annual production capacity of about 8000 tons. However, the actual production volume fluctuates due to various factors such as raw material supply and market demand.

4、 Supply and demand situation and import dependence

The supply and demand situation of the cresol market in China shows certain volatility. Although the domestic production of cresol has maintained stable growth in recent years, there is still a significant supply gap due to production process limitations and downstream market demand growth. Therefore, China still needs to import a large amount of meta cresol every year to make up for the shortcomings in the domestic market.

According to statistics, the production of cresol in China in 2023 was about 7500 tons, while the import volume reached around 225 tons. Especially in 2022, due to fluctuations in international market prices and growth in domestic demand, the import volume of cresol from China exceeded 2000 tons. This indicates that the cresol market in China heavily relies on imported resources.

5、 Market price trends and influencing factors

The market price of meta cresol is influenced by various factors, including international market price trends, domestic supply and demand conditions, production process costs, and international trade policies. In the past few years, the overall market price of meta cresol has shown a fluctuating upward trend. The highest price once reached 27500 yuan/ton, while the lowest price dropped to 16400 yuan/ton.


The international market price has a significant impact on the domestic price of cresol. Due to the significant supply gap in the cresol market between China, import prices often become a determining factor in domestic prices. However, with the growth of domestic production and the improvement of the industrial chain, the dominance of domestic pricing is gradually returning. Meanwhile, the improvement of domestic production processes and cost control also have a positive impact on market prices.

In addition, the implementation of anti-dumping policies also has a certain impact on the market price of meta cresol. For example, China has initiated anti-dumping investigations on imported meta cresol originating from the United States, the European Union, and Japan, making it difficult for meta cresol products from these countries to enter the Chinese market, thereby affecting the supply and demand pattern and price trend of the global meta cresol market.

6、 Downstream market drivers and growth potential

As an important intermediate in fine chemical industry, meta cresol has a wide range of downstream applications. In recent years, with the rapid growth of downstream menthol and pesticide markets, the market demand for meta cresol has also shown a sustained growth trend.

Menthol, as an important spice ingredient, has a wide range of applications in the daily chemical industry. With people’s pursuit of quality of life and the continuous expansion of the daily chemical product market, the demand for menthol is also increasing. As one of the important raw materials for producing menthol, the market demand for m-cresol has also increased.

In addition, the pesticide industry is also one of the important application areas of meta cresol. With the improvement of environmental awareness and the rectification and upgrading of the pesticide industry, the demand for efficient, low toxicity, and environmentally friendly pesticide products is constantly increasing. As an important raw material for producing various pesticides, the market demand for meta cresol will continue to grow.

In addition to the menthol and pesticide industries, m-cresol also has extensive applications in VE and other fields. The rapid development of these fields also provides broad growth opportunities for the meta cresol market.

7、 Future outlook and suggestions

Looking ahead, the Chinese cresol market is facing many opportunities and challenges. With the continuous optimization of domestic production processes and the continuous expansion of downstream markets, the growth potential of the meta cresol industry is becoming increasingly prominent. While facing challenges, the cresol industry in China also has broad development prospects. By increasing technological innovation, expanding international markets, strengthening cooperation with downstream enterprises, and obtaining government support, China’s cresol industry is expected to achieve more stable and sustainable development in the future.

Post time: Apr-01-2024