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Decline in participation impacts NLGI grease production survey

Decline in participation impacts NLGI grease production survey

The National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI) began publishing its Annual Grease Production Survey in 1966, providing valuable data on global grease production trends. This survey, categorised by region, thickener type, and since 2010, base oil type, helps companies benchmark against industry trends and make informed decisions.

At the recent NLGI Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A., Chuck Coe and Gary Dudley presented the survey results from the 2023 grease production survey. A significant decline in participation affected the overall reported grease volumes worldwide. Coe, a member of the NLGI board of directors, noted several companies did not participate this year, disrupting the survey’s value. Globally, grease production has been stable over the past decade, but the 2023 survey reported a 5% decline, primarily due to reduced participation although the data collected is confidential and not shared with anyone outside of the consultants.

China showed a 16% increase in grease production, dominating the market with a 38.1% share. In contrast, North America reported a continued decline, with a CAGR of -1.2%. Europe’s production fell by 14% year-on-year, also impacted by lower participation. India saw a dramatic drop of 147 million pounds in reported production due to non-participation from six companies.

The survey also highlighted trends in thickener types. Lithium grease production declined by 16% in 2023, while lithium complex greases also saw a 5% reduction. Calcium sulfonate greases grew significantly, with a CAGR of 11.4%, driven by their application in high-load, high-temperature environments. Anhydrous calcium soap greases are also making a comeback, particularly in China.

Polyurea greases showed healthy growth, especially in China, Japan, and North America, accounting for 9.5% of all thickeners in 2023. Mineral base oils remain dominant, although non-conventional base oils and bio-based oils are gaining attention.

Measures to enhance engagement, including mapping participation to membership and upgrading the grease database for better functionality and benefits to NLGI members are being planned by NLGI.