By Jon Pio
Made from both animal and vegetable sources, glycerin is used in a variety of applications across many industries, including pharmaceuticals, foods, personal care, tobacco, antifreeze and agrochemicals. As a result of increasing demand and continuing supply issues, the refined glycerin market continues to be tight, well into Q2.
Three primary factors are cited:
- Decreased availability of crude glycerin coming out of Southeast Asian oleochemical production. Southeast Asia is still coming out of a 2015-2016 El Nino event that has limited the amount of raw materials (palm oil, palm kernel oil) available to producers.
- Decreased domestic biodiesel production. U.S.-based glycerin refiners have become dependent on biodiesel producers as their major source of crude glycerin used for refining. With an uncertain political climate relative to the future of the U.S. biodiesel industry, production is down considerably.
- Increased demand for refined glycerin. The glycerin molecule continues to find application across many industries, for such disparate uses as solvents, sweeteners or humectants.
Outlook – The market continues to see increasing price pressure. This could lessen as we get into Q3/Q4 if biodiesel picks up into the summer season and increased feedstocks start becoming available for Southeast Asian producers.
Univar offers multiple grades of glycerin, ranging from value based crude glycerin, 80% by weight, to high purity distilled grades of 99.7% purity, including USP and kosher certified products.