LONDON (ICIS)--European glycerine demand looks likely to remain at healthy levels for 2019, while possible supply levels are murky amid upstream tightness and changing regulations.
Demand forecasts for 2019 are strong, according to market players.
Consumption from participants in the pharmaceutical industry is set to continue at stable levels.
Buying interest from the cosmetics and personal care industries are anticipated to rise in 2019, dependent largely on the global economy.
There has been a rise of long term contracts for 2019, with annual and first-half contracts starting to become more popular than quarterly contracts.
This is mainly due to uncertainty over pricing in the past few years, with fluctuating supply levels pressuring prices in both directions in 2017-2018.
Supply of pharmaceutical grade material could be tighter in 2019, particularly material that is purely rapeseed based.
Supply constraints in the upstream rapeseed methyl ester (RME) market are throwing availability of rapeseed-derived material in to question.
A small rapeseed crop at the end of 2018 means lower supply of the seed will be available for biodiesel crushing.
Decreased levels of rapeseed planting for the 2019 crop are also said to be planned, due mainly to unexpected weather conditions in recent months.
Though a possible drop in imports of Argentine soybean methyl ester (SME), expected in 2019, may bolster RME production rates.
The European Commission - the EU's executive body - announced in December it planned to place anti-subsidy duties on SME imports from Argentina in 2019.
Proposed duties will range from 25-33%, depending on the company, though approval is needed from EU member states before duties can be finalised.
The final decision and implementation of any duties is expected by the end of February.
RME typically loses demand to cheaper alternatives including SME during the summer, when its low cold filter plugging point (CFPP) is not required.
Lower imports may see a rise in buying interest for RME during the summer months, which could lead producers to run the biodiesel grade at higher rates.
As a result, glycerine supply in the next year could actually be generally healthy, as long as rapeseed availability allows for strong biodiesel production.
There has been talk that imports of palm-based pharmaceutical grade glycerine are expected to increase in 2019.
But market players are unsure how much this will actually impact the European market.
This is due to a steady move away from palm-based material in recent years in the region, particularly for use in cosmetics and personal care applications.
As a result, while there are upstream concerns for 2019, players are generally optimistic that supply will be ample enough to cover demand during the year.
Interactive Focus article by Samantha Wright