Abstract In this paper strategies are presented concerning the use of biomass as an alternative feedstock for the chemical industry. Using a systems analytical approach, an attempt is made to calculate the feasibility of a number of potential conversion processes and to quantify the potential outlets for glucose under different assumptions of technology and price relationships between inputs and outputs. The model presented in the paper allows for an evaluation of different technology-price scenarios and for a sensitivity analysis of the parameters included in the model. It is concluded that with present technologies, biomass could only play an important role in the production of bulk chemicals in the EC if significant governmental subsidies were available or if high oil prices and/or extremely low glucose prices are introduced. For the EC, the ECU/US$ exchange rate is also a major determinating factor.