Price and market trends: Palm feedstock shortage pushes Asia stearic acid prices higher

13 December 2013 15:03 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

Triple pressed stearic acid prices in Asia hits 1-year high, tracking the firming of palm stearin prices since late October

Asia triple pressed stearic acid (TPSA C1838) prices hit a one-year high on 4 December, because of a raw materials shortage, said industry sources.

TPSA prices in Asia have risen on a weekly basis, tracking the firming of palm stearin prices, since late October this year.

“Stearic acid prices are on a yearly high, I have not seen these prices for the entire year since September 2012,” stated a buyer in southeast Asia.

On 4 December, TPSA closed at $1,050-1,100/tonne (€777-814/tonne) FOB (free on board) SE Asia for first-quarter loading, up by $20/tonne on the low end from the prior week, based on ICIS data.

“I’m buying more volumes now instead of regular volumes for forward planning, looking 
at the uptrend of palm stearin prices now,” said one northeast Asia buyer.

TPSA is widely used in the personal care, cosmetics, candles, lubricants, stabilizer and food sectors, and fireworks applications.

RBD (refined, bleached and deodorised) palm stearin prices were at $770/tonne FOB Malaysia on 23 October and rose to $852.50/tonne FOB Malaysia on 4 December, with weekly increments of around $10-13/tonne “because of lesser refining activities for palm oil, with many palm refineries running at low rates” said a few industry sources.

“This is because people use more of RBD palm oil as feedstock rather than refining it into RBD palm stearin, hence the shortage of palm stearin,” added a regional trader.

It was heard that there had been a shortage of the co-product, C16 palmitic acid, for a few weeks. Average prices were at $1,075/tonne FOB SE Asia on 4 December, a marked increase from the mid-October price of $975/tonne FOB SE Asia.

The shortage of palmitic acids for December lots has led some regional producers to suspend discussion for two consecutive weeks, amid uncertainties about the price of feedstock crude palm oil (CPO) and about demand for C18 oleic acid.

By Alexis Gan