Hike in vitamin E, vitamin C and methionine imports into the EU

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/nicolas_
© GettyImages/nicolas_

Related tags: vitamin e, methionine, NHU, Dsm, China

The EU imported 12% more vitamin E volumes in 2021 compared to 2020, noted Kemiex, which has been tracking vitamin supply and demand trends over the past year.

That translates as an additional 4,900 metric tons (mt) of vitamin E purchased by European users in 2021 versus the year prior.

In total, the EU imported 46,500 mt of vitamin E last year, said the Swiss data group, including feed, food, and other grades, as well as various forms such as 50% powder and 95% oil, among others.

Switzerland took the lead over China as top exporter of Vitamin E to the EU, supplying 23,000 mt of the product to the bloc.

The key importers of vitamin E in the EU last year were the Netherlands, at 26,400 mt, and Germany, which bought 23,200 mt of that product in 2021. France was the third biggest importer of vitamin E for that period, buying 8,000 mt of the nutritional component.

The EU imported 22,300 mt of vitamin E from China in 2021. Those import volumes were down -1% or 200 tons compared to 2020.

Germany was the main hub for imports from Chinese suppliers such as NHU and ZMC, with the Netherlands being supplied by another Chinese vitamin E producer, Jilin Beisha Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

DSM’s Sisseln site, in Switzerland, the world’s largest production facility for vitamin E, with around 25,000 tons per annum (t/a) capacity, is at full throttle, reported Kemiex.

Meanwhile, looking to new projects, and Yimante, the vitamin E JV of DSM and Nenter in Jingzhou Hubei China, went live in the first quarter of last year, following an upgrade. It has 16,000 t/a vitamin E oil capacity. The DSM Lalden site in Valais, Switzerland, which manufacturers vitamin intermediates, was upgraded as well, and that facility has been online again since October last year.

Vitamin C import trends

Kemiex also provided data on vitamin C purchases by the EU in 2021, with the bloc importing 59,800 mt of that product and its derivatives.

China was the number one supplier of vitamin C to the EU last year, volumes were up 8% on the 2020 levels, according to the data. 

Chinese vitamin C producer, NHU, introduced new production capacity in late 2020, with it gaining market traction quickly, noted Kemiex.

The EU imported 9,800 mt of vitamin C and derivatives from the UK last year, which was a massive -38% reduction on 2020 volumes. 

DSM operates the only Western vitamin C production site in Dalry, Scotland. Another DSM run vitamin C plant is located in Jiangsu province, China.

Increase in methionine imports into the EU

Switching to the amino acids market, and another Kemiex report​ shows the EU imported 2% or 1,100 mt more Dl- and L-Methionine last year than in 2020.

Significant domestic capacity exists in Belgium and France, but Evonik’s smallest European site in Wesseling (around 65,000 t/a) was re-purposed during the first half of 2021.

For the first time, major volumes of that essential amino acid were imported from Singapore. 

The EU’s largest trade partners in respect of Dl-Methionine in 2021 were Malaysia (18,400 mt), China (14,200 mt) and Japan (12,400 mt).

Malaysia remained the biggest supplier of that product to the EU despite a -25% drop in volumes last year. Principal supplier, CJ CheilJedang, was affected by strict COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021, noted Kemiex.

China’s Dl-Methionine exports to the EU increased last year, jumping by 22% compared to 2020, with significant capacity build-up by NHU, while the EU’s imports of that amino acid from Japan were up 26%, said the Swiss group.

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