Glycerol Prices (Q4 2021)
The market in Asia Pacific remained flat in the fourth quarter of 2021. The spike in demand from both domestic and international consumers following the discovery of COVID-19's omicron form was largely responsible for this shift. The downstream cosmetics and skincare industry's requests exceeded the capability of Southeast Asian producers. Manufacturers were forced to cut operational loads in their facilities as a result of the consistently high offers for palm oil on the Asian market. The price of glycerol USP 99.5 percent grade increased by 28% in Q4 2021 as a result of the ripple effect, and monthly average negotiations FOB Johor (Malaysia) were finalised at 2055 USD/MT in December 2021.
Despite Europe's ongoing energy crisis, the European market remained buoyant in Q4 2021, mainly due to high demand that exceeded local production capacity. High electricity costs prompted many businesses to cut their operational costs, which, when paired with high freight costs, prompted domestic suppliers to boost market bids. The return of COVID stimulated demand even more, and CFR Hamburg discussions for glycerol USP grade were finalised at 2635 USD/MT in December.
The North American market demonstrated a bullish trend in the fourth quarter of 2021. The pharmaceutical industry stepped up its support after discovering a new omicron version of COVID 19 on the domestic market. As a result, prices grew by over 10% quarter over quarter, with the DEL Midwest (USA) debate finishing in December 2021 at 2641 USD/MT.
Glycerol, better known as glycerine, is a simple polyol compound. It is a colourless, odourless, and viscous liquid that tastes sweet and is non-toxic in nature. The glycerol backbone is found in lipids known as glycerides. Since it has antimicrobial and antiviral properties it is used in FDA approved wound and burn treatments. It can also be taken as an effective marker to detect liver diseases. It is extensively used as a sweetener in the food industry as well as a humectant in pharmaceutical formulations.
Glycerol is soluble with water and is hygroscopic in nature. It is usually obtained from plant and animal sources where it occurs in triglycerides, esters of glycerol with long-chain carboxylic acids. Glycerol from triglycerides is manufactured on a large scale where it is purified.
Some glycerol is also burned for energy. Glycerol is a precursor for the synthesis of triacylglycerols and of phospholipids inside the liver and adipose tissue. Glycerol, along with the other fatty acids, are released into the bloodstream whenever the body uses stored fat as a source of energy. It is mainly metabolized in the liver. Glycerol injections are used as a simple test for liver damage, as its rate of absorption by the liver is considered for the precise measure of liver health.
Glycerol Prices (Q1-Q3 2021)
Despite upstream constraints created by plant turnarounds around the Chinese Lunar New Year vacations, supplies in Asia were somewhat balanced in the first quarter. Furthermore, the solvent's imports were interrupted during the Suez Canal blockade in late March. On the other hand, the launching of new crackers in China appeared to put the situation back into balance. Demand surged as the downstream pharma sector's offtakes improved. FOB Shanghai prices were hiked to 1180 USD/MT in March due to rising demand and a global supply shortage.
Supplies in the European region were restrained in the first quarter of 2021 due to inadequate biodiesel supply in the northwest European region, where many refineries were working at low rates. Exports to the Asia-Pacific area were interrupted in late March due to the Suez Canal blockade.
Despite an increase in biodiesel production in Q2-21, prices remained high due to increased demand. Due to force majeure from BASF and EVONIK for biodiesel catalyst, low biodiesel output in the region resulted in a price hike in H2-21. The situation was exacerbated by high raw material prices and refiners' limited access to crude glycerol. Increased freight expenses around the world as a result of a global shortage of containers, workforce shortages in major vegetable oil-producing countries, and rising crude oil prices all contributed to the upward trend. Due to growing vegetable oil prices and freight charges, prices began the year 2021 at around 650-700 Euro/MT in Q1-21, climbing to around 1300-1400 Euro/MT in September-October.
Supplies in the North American region were scarce in the first quarter of 2021. Production outages caused by severe freezing weather in the Gulf Coast region of the United States contributed to the tightness. Due to extreme weather, a large facility on the Bay City site with a production capacity of 120,000 MT/year was forced to close. Demand rose as a result of a supply shortage and continuous offtakes from downstream industries. With a quarterly FOB average of 1150 USD/MT in Texas, OQ chemicals boosted feedstock prices, which in turn increased glycerol pricing.
Glycerol Prices Overview 2020
Due to logistical issues and a lockdown in Malaysia, which caused certain oleochemical factories in the country to close, little to no material was provided from Southeast Asia during the pandemic. Any item shipped from Southeast Asia to Europe took at least 40 days to arrive. Despite the fact that it was only a minor component of most sanitizer solutions, demand remained strong, with a little increase in interest for use in sanitizers. During the festival season in November, demand soared in India, resulting in a huge boost in the currency's value. The price of refined glycerol in India averaged 880 USD/MT during the quarter ending in December 2020.
Prices for refined vegetable glycerol surged in 2020 as a result of a supply shortage caused by lower upstream biodiesel production. Due to a lack of demand for fuels in Europe combined with extremely low to negative profitability, biodiesel companies have reduced, and in some cases completely discontinued, production. Some biodiesel producers reduced capacity by half, and many plants were shut down indefinitely. An unplanned outage at a Saipol biodiesel factory in France, which was caused by a fire rather than production limits, further hampered supply. In 2020, the average price was recorded as 710 EUR/MT.
As raw material prices continued to climb, prices in the United States began to rise later in the year. Increased demand from end-user sectors such as personal care and health care boosted the market. Prices rose in the fourth quarter when the World Health Organization issued a formula for making glycerol-based hand rubs and sanitizers for skin moisturization, boosting demand in the North American market. Until at least Q1 2021, rising Brent crude is likely to maintain the region's pricing trend. In addition, a major biodiesel production in the United States shut down for the entire quarter. In addition, a major biodiesel producer in the United States shut down its operations for the full quarter, decreasing the amount of biodiesel available on the market.
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