Petroleum is the leading industry.

The petroleum industry still leads the Lower Elbe region in manufacturing with the large employers Deutsche Shell, ExxonMobil Central Europe, SasolWax and the Holborn Europa Refinery.

Thanks to the availability of essential raw materials, a good infrastructure and transport facilities for the starting products, the basic chemical industries and basic material production are additional key players in the Lower Elbe chemical industry. Two  major locations for this are Stade and Brunsbüttel. Local companies, such as Covestro (previously Bayer MaterialScience) and Dow Chemical have purposely chosen sites with direct access to international sea routes. Items produced there include chemical precursors, such as fatty alcohols, fertilizers or primary products for the plastics industry.

In and around Hamburg a multitude of consumer products are produced and distributed. The best-known brands are Nivea, Schwarzkopf and Dove.

Apart from the big industry players, the chemical sector is above all characterized by its multitude of small and medium-sized enterprises. Their product range covers everything from packaging films, varnish, paint, disinfectants, veterinary medicinal products down to brake pads and food supplements.

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