7. The present market status of the vegetable fats and oleochemical industries


An oleochemical is any chemical that has been derived from fats and oils. In general, there are two types of feedstock (raw materials) for the oleochemical industries: (1) when the feedstock raw material used is a natural fat then the oleochemical produced is known as "natural" oleochemical and (2) when the raw material is from petroleum then the oleochemical produced is known as "synthetic" oleochemical or petrochemical. The focus here will be on the "natural" oleochemicals and reference will be made to show the competition of the "synthetic" oleochemicals.

Between 1960 and 1990, the world production of fats increased annually at an average 3.7%.49 Kaufman (Vice-president for Oleochemicals for Henkel's Emery Group in Ohio) in a keynote address to the world conference on oleochemicals in 1990 said that the world production of fats and oils increased between 1960 and 1990 from 32.1 million metric tons to 80.6 million metric tons.50 Furthermore, the average annual growth rate to the year 2000 is expected to be about 2.8% with total production reaching 105 million metric tons. The figures are shown in the table below:

Table 9: World Production of Oils and Fats by Source (million metric tons)


1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

Vegetable Oils

Coconut oil

2.1

2.2

3.0

3.0

3.3

Palm kernel oil

0.4

0.4

0.7

1.3

2.1

Palm oil

1.1

1.7

4.7

10.6

17.4

Soybean oil

4.0

6.1

14.4

16.9

23.2

Sunflower oil

1.2

3.8

5.6

8.0

9.9

Rapeseed/canola

1.1

1.9

3.4

8.1

10.7

Others

8.7

10.5

11.4

12.7

15.3

Subtotal

18.6

26.2

43.2

60.0

81.9

Animal Fats

Tallow

3.6

4.4

6.1

6.8

7.7

Butter/lard

9.0

8.2

10.0

11.8

13.8

Subtotal

12.6

12.6

16.1

18.6

21.5

Fish Oil

0.9

1.3

1.2

1.4

1.6

Grand Total

32.1

40.1

60.5

80.6

105.0

Table 10: World Oil and Fat Production by Geographic Region (million metric tons)


1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

North America

9.1

13.3

20.6

19.0

22.0

South America

1.6

2.2

5.0

6.5

9.7

Asia

7.5

8.4

13.5

24.4

39.3

Europe

5.2

7.5

9.8

17.0

19.0

USSR

3.1

5.2

5.3

6.0

8.0

All others

4.6

3.5

6.3

7.7

7.0

Total

32.1

40.1

60.5

80.6

105.0

The figures in the tables above show that although North America was the world's leading producer of fats and oils up to 1980, within the next ten years they were bypassed by the Asian countries. In particular, the increase in palm oil production in Asia was responsible for this change in position. This increase in fats and oils production in Asia occurs simultaneously with the development of the oleochemical industries in the region, especially in Malaysia.

In 1990, over 20% of the worldwide production of fats and oils were used in non-edible products related industries. Tallow, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil are the major raw materials for oleochemicals, and in 1990 they accounted for 36% of all the world's fats and oils produced. It is expected that in the year 2000, they will account for over 42% of the total world production of fats and oils.51,52

The prices for the four major raw materials for the oleochemical market as given in the Chemical Marketing Reporter for November 1993 are shown in the table below:53

Table 11: Prices of Major Raw Materials of Oleochemicals

Raw Material

Price US$/Metric Ton November 1993

Palm Kernel

418

Palm Oil

407

Coconut oil

522

Tallow (inedible)

319

The relative fatty acid composition of these four major oils compared with the fixed oil of nutmeg is shown below54:

Table 12: Relative Fatty Acid Composition

Fatty Acid

Coconut Oil

Palm Kernel Oil

Palm Oil

Tallow (Beef)

Fixed Oil of Nutmeg

Lauric

48.0

49.6




Myristic

17.5

14.1

1.0

3.0

95.0

Palmitic

8.8

8.8

42.5

29.0


Caprylic

8.0

2.5




Oleic

6.0

18.5

43.0

46.5

4.0

Capric

7.0

7.0




Stearic

2.0

1.3

4.0

18.5


Linoleic

2.5

0.7

9.5

3.0


Linolenic





1.0

The fatty acid comparison as shown in the table above reveals that coconut oil and palm kernel oil can be used interchangeably in the oleochemical industries because of their similarities. A very similar situation exists between palm oil and tallow. It also shows that the fixed oil of nutmeg has a relatively high proportion of myristic acid. This makes the fixed oil of nutmeg advantageous as a source of myristic acid since the extraction and purification processes would be less tedious due to the high proportion of myristic acid and low proportion of other components.

To show how these fats are used in the oleochemical industries, a flowchart taken from International News on Fats and Oils and Related Materials (Inform), Vol. 1(12) 1990 is provided below:

Raw Materials

Oleochemical Unit Operations

Basic Oleochemicals

Natural



Tall

Splitting

Fatty Acids

Tallow

Distillation

FA Methyl Esters

Coconut Oil

Fractionation

Fatty Alcohols

Palm Oil

Separation

Fatty Amines

Palm Kernel Oil

Hydrogenation

Glycerine

Soybean Oil

Methylation


Sunflower Oil

Deionization


Rapeseed Oil



Canola Oil



Other Veg. Oils



Synthetic



Ethylene



Propylene



Olefins



Derivative Operations

Oleochemical Derivates

End-use Markets

Amidation

Amides

Building Auxiliaries

Chlorination

Dimer and Trimer Acids

Candles

Dimerization

Epoxidized Oils and Esters

Cleaning Agents

Epoxidation

Ethoxylates

Cosmetics

Ethoxylation

Fatty Acid Sulphates

Detergents

Quaternization

Fatty Acid Sulphonates

Fixe Extinguishing Agents

Sulfation

Fatty Esters

Flotation

Sulfonation Transesterification

Soaps and Salts

Food Emulsifiers Insecticides

Esterification


Leather

Saponification


Lubricants



Paints



Paper



Pesticides



Pharmaceuticals



Plastics



Rubber



Soaps



Textile



Tires

Oleochemicals

In 1990, the world demand for oleochemicals was about 4.4 million metric tons with 50% of this representing market for fatty acids and 20% for fatty alcohols.55

The following tables taken from Inform show the present market for fatty acids and other oleochemicals.56 (MT means metric tons, and AAI% means average annual percent increase.)

Table 13: World Fatty Acid Production, 1988-2000 (1,000 MT)


1988

1995

2000

AAI %

North America

590

680

750

2.0

Western Europe

895

1,010

1,100

1.7

Asia

555

660

750

2.5

Other

190

225

260

2.6

Totala

2,230

2,575

2,860

2.1

a Does not include tall oil fatty acids or synthetic fatty acids

Table 14: Consumption of Natural Fatty Acids, 1987-1992 (1,000 MT)


1987

1992

AAI % 1987-1992

United States

737

842

2.7

Western Europe

904

986

1.5-2.0

Japan

245

310

4.8

Total

1,886

2,138

2.5

Table 15: World Glycerine Production, Consumption and Capacity, 1988 (1,000 MT)


Production

Consumption

Refining Capacity




Natural

Synthetic

North America

153

166

170

60

Western Europe

200

160

177

50

Asia/Pacific

150

137

189

40

Other

85

125

107

20

Total

588

588

643

170

Table 16: World Production of Basic Natural Oleochemicals By-Product Group, 1988-2000 (1,000 MT)


1988

1995

2000

AII % 1988-2000

Natural fatty acidsa

2,230.0

2,575.0

2,860.0

2.1

Fatty acid methyl estersb

110.0

175.0

232.0

6.4

Natural fatty alcoholsc

364.0

581.0

627.0

4.6

Fatty aminesd

371.0

491.2

581.7

3.8

Natural glycerinee

240.0

300.0

341.0

3.0

Total

3,315.1

4,122.2

4,461.7

2.8

a Does not include tall oil fatty acids
b Other than in production of fatty alcohols
c Overstated by undetermined amount used in fatty amines
d Does not include amines produced from olefins
e Does not include glycerine from soap production

Table 17: World Production of Basic Oleochemicals by Region, 1988-2000 (1,000 MT)a


1988

1995

2000

AAI % 1988-2000

North America

831.5

1,022.2

1,144.3

2.7

Western Europe

1,274.4

1,464.3

1,593.8

1.9

Asia

751.2

1,070.6

1,252.6

4.3

Other

212.0

265.0

310.07

3.2

Total World Natural Glycerine

3,315.1

4,122.2

2,641.7

2.8

a Conditions that were given in the footnote of the previous table apply here also.

The data in the tables above shows that there has been a steady increase in demand for oleochemicals and that industry will probably grow steadily at an average annual increase of 3% up to the year 2000. The largest growth in terms of production of basic oleochemicals is expected to occur in Asia. It should be reminded that the figures given above are for oleochemicals produced from natural sources and does not include the production of synthetic oleochemicals (petrochemicals), ie, oleochemicals whose raw material sources are petroleum-based products.

The competition of synthetic versus natural feedstock for the surfactant industry exists primarily with the production of surfactant alcohols (fatty alcohols). At present, vegetable oil accounts for 40% of fatty alcohols produced in the world and this is expected to rise to 52% by 1995. It is believed that further increases in the use of oleochemicals over petrochemicals for fatty alcohol production will occur as new facilities are built to produce more fatty alcohols from oleochemicals. This increased capacity is expected to occur predominantly in southeast Asia.57

Malaysia is a prime example of growth with the oleochemical industry. The first fatty acid plant was built in Malaysia in 1979 producing over 30 thousand metric tons annually. Later in 1981, two other plants were opened with combined capacity of about 62 thousand metric tons.58 There were six oleochemical plants in Malaysia in 1990 with total annual capacity of 250 thousand metric tons.

The Industrial Master Plan (IMP) an industrial development program in Malaysia, calls for an increase to 750 thousand metric tons by 1995. In 1993, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated Malaysia's oleochemical capacity at 600 thousand metric tons. This has been accomplished by several joint venture projects between Malaysian companies and foreign companies. For example, Procter and Gamble joined with Felda Mills Corporation, a subsidiary of the Malaysian Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) to build a $50 million natural fatty alcohol and glycerine plant production which began in 1992 and the capacity is 60 thousand metric tons annually. In this venture, Procter and Gamble has 50% ownership and will use its propriety natural alcohol technology. Felda will supply palm kernel oil as feedstock.59,60