Our independent weekly Glycerine reports cover different regions and grades. In Asia, the price assessments are based on spot refined and crude 80% grades, while Europe looks at contract and spot for tallow and vegetable, and crude 80% for spot. Our Latin America report covers spot markets for refined and crude grades, while the US looks at contract and spot for vegetable and tallow, pharmaceutical grade for contract, and crude for spot.
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Our editor gives their expert view
Glycerine overview Transcript
Glycerine is a coproduct of the manufacture of fatty acids and fatty alcohols and also the trans-esterification process of biodiesel. These processes can involve either tallow or fats, which means that the upstream markets for glycerine are just those markets, they’ll be the fats, the oils, and including the biodiesel market where we watch the multi-feed-stock producers.
It’s part of the oleochemicals family that includes fatty acids and fatty alcohols, not biodiesel, that’s not an oleochemical. But it is crude glycerine that is of increasing importance in market in the US and that stems from the biodiesel production.
The uses for glycerine can be food uses, they can be construction uses or they can be agricultural uses. It is a ubiquitous product with over 1,000 end-uses in the markets. It is, in fact, a green product, it is not made through anything using petrochemicals and therefore is increasingly sought after for companies that want to green their profile as the bio-revolution continues in the US.
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Glycerine: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2016
Asia’s refined glycerine market is expected to be stable to firm in the second quarter of 2016 on the back of a more balanced supply situation and a rise in raw material prices. The crude glycerine market in China is expected to be firmer, as suppliers' cargo availability will be limited.
The US glycerine market is expected to remain long through Q2 2016. Imported volumes in 2015 topped 140,000 tonnes, which translates to long supply for at least the first half of 2016 as most market players expect import demand to be no higher than 100,000 tonnes/year. Product originating from Argentina disappeared from the market at the end of 2014 and the country will likely not restart biodiesel production until crude oil prices improve.
European refined glycerine contract prices are expected to roll over in the second quarter, following a fairly quiet first quarter. Availability of crude glycerine is on the tight side as a result of lower biodiesel production and the supply of pure rapeseed oil-based crude glycerine is expected to tighten further as the upstream production of rapeseed methyl ester (RME) decreases in Europe amid the switch to summer specification fuels.
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Glycerine is mainly produced as a by-product in soap and oleochemical manufacture, using natural fats and oils as raw materials, or as a by-product of biodiesel production from the transesterification of vegetable oils into methyl esters. Glycerine can also be manufactured synthetically to give a product free of smell or taste.
A major outlet for glycerine is personal and oral care products such as skincare creams, toothpastes and mouth washes. It is used in food products either as glycerine directly or one of its derivatives such as glycerol mono-stearate.
Other uses include tobacco humectant, polyether polyols in polyurethane manufacture, pharmaceuticals, alkyd resins, explosives, plasticisers and lubricants. A growing application is the production of epichlorohydrin (ECH) and propylene glycol (PG).