Grease Sees Healthy Growth

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Total reported grease production worldwide topped 1.8 billion pounds (822 million kilograms) in 2004,versus 1.69 billion pounds reported in 2003, according to NLGI International. North American grease production increased a hearty 6.4 percent, while in Europe production inched up 1 percent. Lithium greases continue to take market share from calcium, sodium and other metallic soap greases.

The latest Grease Production Survey Report from NLGI International, based in Kansas City, Mo., covers calendar years 2001 through 2004, and breaks production data down by geographic region and by type of thickener.

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The grand total of greaseproduction reported for all countries in 2004 was 1.826 billion pounds. Lithium soap totaled 1.3 billion pounds or 72 percent of production; calcium soap totaled 213 million pounds; aluminum soap totaled 92 million pounds; polyurea totaled 84 million pounds; sodium soap totaled 25 million pounds; with other metallic soaps, clay and other non-soap thickeners making up the rest.

For North America (Canada, Mexico and the United States) and Europe data is presented on a total-reported and on a comparative basis. The latter includes data only from those companies which participated in each year of the report.

Total North American grease production in 2004 was 524 million pounds (235 million kg). On a comparative basis, overall production rose 6.4 percent from 2003, but individual product categories showed significant differences. Aluminum soap grease production rose 8.3 percent, perhaps attributable to the healthy growth of the food-grade grease business. Calcium grease production declined 3.3 percent, continuing to lose volume to lithium. Lithium grease production increased 6 percent, reflecting its generally superior performance and ease of manufacture.

Interestingly, the North American other non-soap, non-clay category jumped 53 percent from 2003 to 2004, from 6.3 to 13.5 million pounds. The reason may never be known, said one industry observer, given the strict confidentiality rules surrounding the survey replies.

Total reported European grease production in 2004 was 451 million pounds (203 million kg). On a comparative basis, total production rose 1 percent from 2003. Aluminum soap greases declined 6.5 percent, calcium declined 15 percent, polyurea declined 6 percent, while lithium increased 6 percent.

Summary of 2004 Global Grease Production:


Region

Com-panies included

Production in millions of pounds

%
Aluminum

%
Calcium

%
Lithium

% Polyurea

%
Other

N. America

42

524

10%

7%

69%

6%

8%

Europe

42

451

5%

16%

69%

2%

8%

Cent., S. America

10

98

1%

16%

77%

6%

Africa, Mid East

11

76

<1%

6%

83%

11%

India & Region

13

125

<1%

5%

86%

9%

Japan

16

162

2%

10%

60%

21%

7%

Pacific, S.E. Asia

11

122

3%

23%

70%

4%

P.R. of China

3

270

3%

13%

80%

2%

2%

TOTAL WORLD

148

1,826

5%

12%

72%

5%

6%

In addition to reported production volumes, Joseph A. Lurz, Jr., president of J&A Consultants, Spring, Texas, who compiles the annual report for NLGI International, included an estimate of grease production for companies that participated in the survey in recent years but did not participate in 2004. Lurz estimated that these companies would have increased the total reported volumes by 18 million pounds in 2004, or about 1 percent, worldwide.

The NLGI Production Report is a true value to the industry, said Barbara Bellanti, president of Battenfeld Grease & Oil Corp. of NY, N. Tonawanda, N.Y. We use the data to follow trends and answer our customers questions. Its the only [worldwide] industry data available, the only game in town. Thats why NLGI strives to make it complete and accurate.

Copies of the 22 page report can be purchased from NLGI for $150 (nonmembers) or $75 (members).To order, visit http://www.nlgi.organd select “NLGI Store.”