„The golden age for glycerine in Europe is over.“

The demand for vegetable glycerine has been increasing for years. Why do you think the European market is becoming more difficult?

Because the glycerine market is increasingly changing from a buyer's to a seller's market. This is understandable if you look at how vegetable glycerine is produced: it is created as a by-product in a process known as transesterification, mainly in biodiesel production. In addition to 90% biodiesel, 10% vegetable glycerine is always produced in the manufacture of the fuel. With this percentage distribution, it is clear which product is leading the way. Thus, the biodiesel boom of recent years has automatically led to a large supply on the glycerine market. If more and more alternative drive technologies and fuels now become established on the market, biodiesel production from transesterification will fall and with it automatically the amount of glycerine on the market.

Greener mobility leads to less glycerine on the European market?

Quite right. We currently see five major trends that are reducing biodiesel consumption: In road and air transport, new, higher-quality fuels are coming onto the market in the form of HVO and SAF, some of which are tax-privileged. In Germany, the country with by far the largest share of diesel in the passenger car fleet, the number of registered e-vehicles is rising rapidly. In addition, a favorable ethanol price here can influence the volume of biodiesel on the market, as fuel manufacturers can use compensation models to partially offset the proportion of their bio-blend in diesel (biodiesel) or gasoline (ethanol, e.g. as E10).

In terms of volume, however, heavy truck traffic is even more significant than the passenger car sector. Here, the fuel alternatives are LNG and CNG in addition to electrification. The last trend, from biodiesel production itself: Worldwide, it is increasingly being produced waste-based. They come, for example, from used cooking oil (UCO), slaughterhouses (tallow), fir wood (tall-oil) or palm oil production (palm-oil mill effluent, POME. This is sustainable, but these raw materials cannot be used to produce high-quality glycerine that later meets kosher, halal or organic criteria.

For the growing demand for high-quality glycerine grades for food, cosmetics or pharmaceuticals, there is less and less product available.
Tobias Thiel, Senior Product Manager Glycerine

Auf der Angebots-Seite sehen Sie sinkende Glycerin-Mengen. Wie beurteilen Sie die weltweite Nachfrage?

Die steigt, kontinuierlich seit Jahren. Im technischen Bereich können auch einfache Qualitäten gut eingesetzt werden. Aber überall dort, wo Qualitätsauflagen weiter steigen und Nachhaltigkeits-Anforderungen strikter werden, wie im Food-, Kosmetik- oder Pharmasektor, geht die Schere zwischen wachsendem Bedarf und sinkendem Lieferangebot immer weiter auf. Die Glycerinmenge aus europäischen Rohstoffen wie Raps ist gedeckelt. Wir werden immer stärker von Importware abhängig.

Wäre oleochemisches Glycerin ein Ausweg?

Oleochemisches Glycerin entsteht nicht in der Biodiesel-, sondern in der Fettsäure-, Fettalkohol- und Seifen-Produktion, wieder mit einem Anteil von 10% des eingesetzten Pflanzenöls. Die globale Nachfrage nach oleochemischen Produkten steigt kontinuierlich. Sie unterliegt kaum politischem Einfluss und ist damit rein nachfragegetrieben. Das sind sehr gute Vorzeichen! Aber der oleochemische Anteil am Glycerin-Markt beträgt nur rund 25% und kann die Mengen aus der Biodiesel-Herstellung bei weitem nicht kompensieren.

Worauf müssen sich Unternehmen einstellen, die Glycerin einsetzen?

Die geringere lokale und internationale Verfügbarkeit von Glycerin hat heute schon Konsequenzen – und die werden zunehmen. Nicht jede Glycerintype wird in Zukunft nicht mehr ganzjährig wie gewohnt zur Verfügung stehen. Unternehmen müssen sich auf höhere und volatilere Preise einstellen.

We are pursuing three strategies to secure our supply chains for glycerine.

What is CREMER OLEO doing to nevertheless contribute to the long-term growth of its customers?

We are doing everything we can to secure our customers' supply chains in the future. To this end, we are currently pursuing three strategies in parallel: We are diversifying our supply chains. For example, we are currently expanding our large and stable global supplier network for vegetable glycerine in order to securely map the supply chain from the country of cultivation to our customers' European production. We are also strengthening our sourcing in Southeast Asia and Latin America. At the same time, we are investing in our transport infrastructure in Europe, in warehouses and tanks, in order to be able to respond even more individually to the needs of our customers and to create supply security. The keyword here is customized supply chains. And last but not least, we will be adding a glycerine substitute to our product portfolio in the course of the year in order to diversify our customers' raw material base and also support them in their future growth.

Senior Product Manager Glycerin bei CREMER OLEO: Tobias Thiel

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