Have vitamin E prices been affected by the m-cresol outage?

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags vitamin e Basf China ASF Coronavirus

There would not seem to be major volatility in vitamin E pricing since November last year when a force majeure was announced by LANXESS for the production of m-cresol, an intermediate in the manufacture of vitamin E, at its site in Germany.

But it is still too early to tell,​” said Guy Soreq, in relation to any major price movements on that vitamin.

He is the founder of the platform, Glowlit, which uses an algorithm to track not only feed additive prices but also how many users are interested in a specific feed additive at a given time.

He told this publication: “The market took into account the LANXESS m-cresol production challenges in November last year. The 4.5% increase in the last two weeks [see below] is most probably the opening shot for a new rebalancing of prices around a new ‘floor price’".

E50 Price Report Glowlit Feed Additive Pricing information

Mark Mätschke, spokesperson for LANXESS, told us today that the company had nothing further to add to its statement from late last year, with it reiterating that it expects to go back to regular production of m-cresol in the course of the first half of 2020.

Subsequent to the announcement of disruptions in the supply of that intermediate, BASF, a leading producer of vitamin E, told us​ its manufacturing would not be impacted, given that it does not use m-cresol in its production. However, there are many local Chinese vitamin E manufacturers whose main raw material is, indeed, m-cresol.

“Since November, the main change in the market has been the decrease in supply coming from China. However, we also need to consider the significant decrease in Chinese demand - the expected holiday increase in consumption did not come into effect [due to the coronavirus epidemic], not to mention the continuous and significant impact of African Swine Fever (ASF),” ​continued Soreq.

There has been massive uncertainty in global markets triggered by the spread of the coronavirus in China; the epicentre of the virus is noted for significant feed and food additive production.

Chinese producers and buyers of feed additives still do not know what impact the coronavirus will have though, Soreq was quick to stress.

“Despite this lack of information, we’ve seen a great deal of speculation regarding the impact on the markets - reports and social media posts citing 'expert' claims that a shortage is forthcoming.

“In the last two weeks, we saw an increase in interest in many feed additives, vitamin E50 among them. Our data shows that distributors are only offering limited quantities until the Chinese New Year holiday will end and production comes back on track (or doesn't come back...). We assume that a major part of the uptick in activity is a result of purchasing managers handling management pressure to come up with a best-case and worst-case contingency plan,”​ added Soreq.

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