Our global Fatty Alcohols report is published weekly and contains price assessments for a range of grades, but focusses on spot activity in Asia and contract in Europe and the US.
The news and market analysis provides information on the factors driving prices, including demand, supply, feedstock movements and graphs. As a market participant you can use this reliable tool to help in the business decision-making process.
Our editor gives their expert view of fatty alcohols
Fatty Alcohols Overview Transcript
The fatty alcohols are part of a group of chemicals called oleochemicals. The alcohols contain an alcohol unit as well as a glyceride unit and the functionality of those units allows the alcohols to be used in end-uses for industrial and home cleansers, detergents, surfactants.
It also enables the C8-11s to go into various construction uses and the C16-18s to go into personal care and cosmetics.
The market is driven highly by the price of veg oils in Asia, the US imports about 90% of our alcohols, so the US market is very watchful of the Asian veg oil prices.
It’s trade driven and the US, being a huge consuming market, whereas the other markets might have a little more spot selling going on
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Fatty alcohols: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2016
Quarterly US mid-cut detergent range fatty alcohol contracts rose in the third quarter (Q3) 2016 assessments, closely copying gains realised in the second quarter. Palm kernel oil (PKO) prices drove the increases along with strong pressure on buyers from natural alcohol sellers trying to refresh margins to viable levels. The sharp gains follow several quarters of deep margin losses.
Supply-demand fundamentals are also improved. Asian producers severely cut back on production utilisation rates to assist in clamping significant excess supply that dominated the market for a number of quarters.
Asia’s fatty alcohol market is expected to continue to face a challenging environment in the third quarter. Supply is more balanced with most plants running on lower utilisation rate, but demand has remained lacklustre. Firm PKO prices and recently implemented export taxes in Malaysia and Indonesia meant that C12-14 alcohol producers outside of these two countries are less competitive at the moment.
Volatile PKO price trends have seen disparity between European fatty alcohol buyers’ and sellers’ price expectations in Q3. Although Q3 prices are largely expected to settle stable to firm, absolute levels remain contentious. Supply and demand remain stable, but some players have commented that sustained resistance to producer’s offers could see supply tighten in the European market in coming months as sellers target other global or downstream markets.
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Fatty Alcohols Methodology
About Fatty alcohols
Fatty alcohols can be produced from natural oils such as palm kernel oil, vegetable oils, soy bean and tallow using hydrogenation. However, they can be produced synthetically by the oligomerization of ethylene to produce fatty alcohols with chain lengths suitable for surfactants.
The main use of fatty alcohols is in detergents where they are used to make the active cleansing ingredients in laundry detergents, shampoos and shower gels. An example is the production of ethoxylates from the reaction of the acid with ethylene oxide.
In cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, fatty alcohols may be used because of their own specific properties such as cleansing, shaving and vanishing creams, hair lotions and lipsticks.
Other applications include emulsion stabilisers, evaporation control agent, lubricants, corrosion inhibitors and inks.
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