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Fine and Specialty Chemicals

Industry Overview:

By definition, fine chemicals are complex, pure substances produced under exacting specifications. These chemicals stand as a middle-man between the other two subdivisions of the wider chemical industry, with commodity chemical manufacturers serving as supplier on one side, and specialty chemical manufacturers serving as customer on the other. The differences between commodity, fine, and specialty chemicals can be likened to the differences between commodity crops like rice, delicacies like caviar, and Michelin star dishes: commodity chemicals are produced on a large scale for low prices, fine chemicals are manufactured in much smaller amounts sold for much higher prices, and specialty chemicals are compounds of fine and commodity chemical “ingredients” mixed together in specific proportions to serve one specific purpose.

The majority share of the fine chemicals industry is devoted to the life sciences, with pharmaceutical active ingredients comprising approximately 60% of the total market share and agrochemicals accounting for another 20%. The final 20% of the market is widely diversified, including food and beverage ingredients and electronic chemicals. Companies in this industry must be diversified and flexible; when products are manufactured in very limited quantities, a large portfolio of offerings is necessary to remain competitive. Partially because of the rigor in the FDA’s approval process, innovation in fine chemicals looks primarily at operating procedures and developing new formulations of existing products to decrease expenses.

Common Applications:
  • Pharmaceuticals, Biopharmaceuticals, Agrochemicals, Cosmetics, Food & Beverage, Nutraceuticals.
  • Life sciences custom manufacturing
  • Organic synthesis
  • Products: Low-molecular-weight (LMW) vs. High-molecular-weight (HMW)
  • Methods: Chemical synthesis, Biotechnology, Extraction, Hydrolysis
  • Fine Chemical / Custom Manufacturing Organizations (CMOs)
  • Contract Research Organizations (CROs)
Look for our articles in Chemical Week and other industry publications..

With over 25 years as a top chemical industry recruitment agency, Ropella is well-versed in the challenges companies face in their search to find highly qualified professionals. As talent acquisition specialists, we excel at attracting, recruiting and building relationships with potential candidates. Our executive search consultants stay abreast of current industry trends making Ropella a knowledgeable, efficient and effective partner for recruiting top chemical talent.

A proven executive search firm, Ropella is dedicated to helping companies gain a competitive advantage by providing customized and strategic talent solutions. We leverage our industry expertise, proprietary smart search system and global network to deliver exceptional results quickly for even the most challenging searches. Successful industry leaders count on Ropella to find the right talent to drive their business forward.


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Sales (such as; new business development, key account management, technical service, customer service, branch, district, region, national, global in scope).
Marketing (such as market research, market analyst, consumer research, public relations, social media, communications, product management).
Manufacturing (such as operations, production, engineering, plant design, process development, pilot plant, scale up).
Research & Development (such as exploratory research, discovery research, synthesis, analytical, applications development, new product development, formulations, compounding, quality control, environmental, regulatory, health and safety).
Administration (such as procurement, supply chain, logistics, human resources).
Business Management (such as general management, executive, manager, director, vice president, c-suite and board member, commercial development, merger, acquisition, joint venture).
Venture Capital / Private Equity (such as administration and finance, commercial development, executive level management, human resources, mfg., marketing, r&d, sales)
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Jeff Bennett

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