US Q4 glycerine prices expected to remain steady

20 October 2010 23:10  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Fourth-quarter US glycerine prices were expected to be unchanged because of improved demand and adequate supply, refined glycerine suppliers said on Wednesday.

“It’s almost robust compared to what we saw before,” a market participant said.

Refined glycerine contracts were last assessed in October at 34-44 cents/lb ($750-970/tonne, €548-708/tonne) for vegetable-based material and 32-43 cents/lb for tallow-derived glycerine.

Buyers and sellers did not anticipate further price movements during the quarter due to largely balanced US supply and demand fundamentals.

“We’ve got healthy demand and no supply crises,” one large supplier said.

A slow re-building has taken place in 2010, after prices hit a benchmark low of 28 cents/lb for both tallow-derived and vegetable-refined glycerine contracts in the fourth quarter of 2009, market players said.

Feedstock price issues emanating from sporadic biodiesel production wrought havoc during the year, pushing oleochemical glycerine refiners to margins so narrow that the glycerine value was upside down to the feedstock in the tallow market.

Tallow-glycerine suppliers were dealing with feedstock bleachable fancy tallow (BFT) prices in the mid-30s cents/lb - close to or higher than the high-20s cents/lb value of the refined glycerine. 

Vegetable-derived glycerine was similarly challenged by crude soybean oil prices in the 30s and 40s cents/lb and glycerine in the 20s cents/lb, suppliers said.

Glycerine is a co-product of the oleochemical production of fatty acids and fatty alcohols as well as the trans-esterification process of biodiesel production. The co-product is referred to as splitter-crude glycerine if it is from oleochemical production.

Crude glycerine must be refined to 96.5% purity or higher before going into the numerous end-uses for which it is well-known. Among these are food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications.

US glycerine producers and refiners include Proctor & Gamble, Dial, Emery Oleochemicals and Vantage Oleochemicals.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Judith Taylor
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