Fatty acids are largely derived from vegetable oils such as palm and coconut oil. Most fatty acid production originates from southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. In Malaysia and Indonesia, palm oil is the raw material used in the production of fatty acids while in the Philippines it is primarily coconut oil. The major applications for fatty acids are cosmetics and toiletries such as shampoos, liquid detergents and body lotions. They are also used as lubricants and plasticisers in rubber and polymer processing.
North America has fatty acid production using bleachable fancy tallow (BFT) as feedstock. The basic acids from this production are the C18 Stearic acids. These fatty acids are always non-kosher.
North America also produces C18 Tall Oil Fatty Acid (TOFA) from the distillation of crude tall oil (CTO) that is made from the wood pulping process. TOFA is derived from the distillation of the CTO, with further processing to remove rosin (a wood resin). Lesser rosin results in a higher purity product.
There is no glycerine co-product from TOFA production.
North America imports the majority of vegetable derived fatty acids, primarily from Asia. Tallow-based and vegetable derived C18 fatty acids compete in some markets.
Glycerine is a co-product of fatty acid production using either tallow or vegetable oil as feedstock.
In Europe, both tallow and vegetable based fatty acids are produced and traded.
To find out more Fatty Acids Methodology February 2012