NLGI Airs Grease Data


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – North Americas lubricating grease companies churned out 466 million pounds of grease in 2013, according to newly released data from the National Lubricating Grease Institute.

Europes grease manufacturers reported their output at 439 million pounds for the year. And even added together, the two continents did not top Chinas grease production, according to the NLGI 2013 Grease Production Survey.

Tyler Jark, a member of the NLGI Board of Directors, gave an overview of the survey results at the Institutes annual meeting here. He said Chinas production totaled 992 million pounds for the year, somewhat more than the 931 million pounds that its producers reported for 2012.

China holds a 38 percent share of global grease production, while North America and Europe combined amount to about 36 percent, he said.

India ranks fourth, the survey shows, with 191 million pounds made in 22 grease plants in 2013. Rounding out the top five is Japan, with 18 facilities that produced a total 172 million pounds last year.

In response to NLGIs yearly survey, Jark said that 222 companies worldwide provided data on their production from 250 grease plants. In all, they reported making 2.59 billion pounds in calendar year 2013.

By contrast, total grease output reported for 2012 was 2.51 billion pounds, he added. He emphasized that all data is submitted voluntarily and the group of respondents who elect to participate in each annual survey can vary. So the year-to-year results are not directly comparable.

However, the full report does include comparative for those companies who respond every year — and on a global basis, these producers showed a 1.3 percent uptick in their grease production volumes.

Regionally, the performance was more mixed, continued Jark, who is with Lubricating Specialties Co. in Pico Rivera, Calif. On a comparative basis, North America and South East Asia reported lower production volumes in 2013, while Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and China all showed significant increases, he said. Other regions were essentially unchanged.

There are about 30 pages of data in the full report, so its very detailed, Jark said. Grease production is sorted by zone, by thickener type, by year and (since 2010) by base oil type. Three prior years of data are included, along with the 2013 data.

Other highlights from the 2013 survey report:

  • Eighty-five percent of the respondents submitted data on the type of base oil used in their grease products. Conventional mineral oil base stock dominates, going into almost 93 percent of their reported production. Another 6.6 percent of their output is based on synthetic and semi-synthetic base fluids, and a scant 0.6 percent contains biobased fluids.
  • Lithium and lithium complex greases remain the worlds favorite type of grease thickeners, by far. Together, they account for 77 percent of all grease made, the NGLI survey shows.
  • Second favorite, at 10 percent of the global supply, is calcium grease. These include four types, Jark observed, including hydrated, anhydrous, calcium sulfonate and calcium complex versions. Hydrated calcium is the worlds oldest metal soap thickener, leaving some attendees to marvel at how these manage to persist in the marketplace despite competition from more modern types.
  • Third place goes to polyurea greases, which accounts for a little shy of 6 percent of total global production, Jark said. He added that these greases saw a very large gain in 2013 versus the prior year, but declined to speculate on the reason behind this growth.

All participants report their production in confidence to the independent firm Grease Technology Solutions in Manassas, Va., which then analyzes and compiles the data. No one at NLGI ever sees any individual companys data, Jark stressed.

Most companies participate consistently each year in the survey, according to Chuck Coe of Grease Technology Solutions. As well, some typically take the opportunity to update or finalize their prior years data.

Caution must be used when trying to compare this survey to earlier surveys, Coe advises, as there are significant revisions to production numbers reported earlier for the years 2010 to 2012.

Copies of the 2013 NLGI Grease Production Survey are provided free to NLGI member companies and to survey participants. Others may purchase it online at

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