Natural Vitamin E (NVE) prices have increased substantially in recent years due to several converging factors which have created a significant supply/demand imbalance.
The primary reason for the sharp price increase in NVE relates to significantly tighter supply of the key raw material used to produce mixed Tocopherols, from which Natural Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) is produced.
Natural Tocopherols are isolated from the deodorised distillate of refined vegetable oil (VOD). Most of the VODs used to produce NVE come from soybean oil. Other oils such as rapeseed, sunflower, corn and cottonseed may also be used but their usage is minor.
Vegetable Oil Distillates (VOD) are produced as a by-product of the vegetable oil refining process, when crude vegetable oils are refined to produce finished, edible oils.
The growth in the supply of VOD is limited by the growth in soybean oil production.
In addition, the global trend to reduce trans fats from the diet has led to a change in the refinement process of producing edible oils. This process change has led to a reduction in the available volumes of VODs.
In summary, the basic problem on the raw material supply side is that the extraction of NVE is dependent on a key raw material which is produced as a secondary by-product of the vegetable oil refining process.
In addition to growing tightness in the supply of VODs, the demand for NVE has recovered in recent years as consumer preferences for natural products, natural preservatives and natural ingredients grows.
It is understood that NVE producers are investigating alternative production processes which would help improve the supply demand balance but nothing has yet been confirmed that would generate additional supply in the coming 1 – 2 years.