FocusOleochemicals demand holds up in consumer markets - producers

11 January 2010 22:43  [Source: ICIS news]

By Doris de Guzman

NEW YORK (ICIS news)--Demand for oleochemicals in consumer applications has weathered the recession better than industrial demand, several producers said on Monday.

“The consumer sector held up better as many customers did not stop cleaning their homes. However, they did purchase more value-brand products to cut costs,” said John Cate, global business director of fabric and cleaning applications with AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry.

Cate noted a significant demand decline for oleochemicals in other market applications. Demand in the industrial area, he said, was hit hard by the tanking of the automotive market and the general decline in travel and entertainment.

AkzoNobel, which supplies specialty surfactants and polymers to the fabric and cleaning markets, consumes all of its fatty acid production from its Morris, Illinois, facility.

Meanwhile, US-based Evonik Goldschmidt also noted steady demand for oleochemicals in consumer markets, especially in Europe. The company produces fatty acids at its Mapleton, Illinois, facility for internal consumption.

“The consumer markets have weathered the recession reasonably well,” said Dave Del Guercio, senior vice president and general manager for Evonik’s global household care business.

“Compared to other markets, we didn’t see the strong fall-off in the consumer sector during the first half of 2009. Demand from the consumer markets was steady and even somewhat stronger in Europe than in North America for us,” added Del Guercio.

Overall, US oleochemical demand was down 20-30% in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the third quarter of 2008, according to Chicago-based Vantage Oleochemicals (formerly Uniqema Americas).

Vantage Oleochemicals pegged industry utilization rates at 70-80% in 2009.

“Recovery has been very slow in 2009 and overall demand is still below first quarter of 2008 [levels],” said Don Ciancio, Vantage Oleochemicals vice president.

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By: Doris de Guzman
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