Grease Output Up in Japan, Southeast Asia

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Grease Output Up in Japan, Southeast Asia
© SOORACHET KHEAWHOM

Global grease production increased 8% in 2021, according to the latest survey by the National Lubricating Grease Institute, as the industry rebounded from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey, considered the most comprehensive check-in on the world’s grease industry, also showed a 17% jump in production in Japan and a 13% boost for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

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“The companies reporting from those regions for 2021 were the same or largely the same as for 2020, so those increases are real,” said Chuck Coe, president of Grease Technology Solutions, which conducts the survey. “Like the global figures, I think they reflect a recovery from the pandemic for the industry in those regions.”

The survey also showed higher production in China, though Coe cautioned that changes in the companies that responded undermine the reliability of year-to-year comparisons for that market.

The survey for 2021 covered 253 respondents, including entries in multiple regions for a number of companies. Those respondents reported producing 1.19 billion kilograms (2.6 billion pounds) of grease. Comparative results – based on amounts reported by respondents that also participated in 2018-2020 – showed 1.15 billion kg last year, up from 1.07 billion kg in 2020. The 2020 comparative total was 7% lower than in 2019.

China is by far the world’s largest grease market, with 451 million kg last year – more than twice as much as Europe, which was the biggest regional market other than Asia.

Companies in Japan reported producing 80.6 million kg of grease in 2021, up from 68.8 million kg in 2020 and also up from 78.3 million kg in 2019. Japan continues to have by far the largest proportion of greases made with polyurea thickeners – 29% in 2021. Southeast Asia and the Pacific had the next highest proportion of polyurea greases at 7%.

Japan also still has the lowest percentage of greases made with conventional or complex lithium soap thickeners – 59%. China had the second-lowest portion of lithium greases – 65% — and by far the highest portion of volume made with calcium-soap thickeners, 23%.

Production volume in Southeast Asia and the Pacific was 83.1 million kg, up from 73.2 million kg in 2020 and 76.6 million kg in 2019.