NLGI survey: Worldwide grease production declines 0.4%

The National Lubricating Grease Institute’s (NLGI) annual Grease Production Survey (GPS) has been released. The survey reports ‘fairly stable’ global grease production for 2017 at just over 2.5 billion pounds (lbs), a 0.4% decrease compared to 2016. The GPS is a voluntary submission of annual grease production and includes data from 226 companies and 261 grease plants.

Reporting the GPS results at the NLGI Annual General Meeting in Coeur d’Alene this week, Chuck Coe, president of Grease Technology Solutions, notions that despite a headline decline, changes in participation from individual companies can impact survey results. When researchers looked at companies who have reported for the past four years – a 4.4% increase was observed on a comparative basis.

Regionally, North America (2.4%) and the European Union (8.3%) demonstrated measurable growth on a comparative basis compared to 2016. China’s production was slightly less than North America and Europe combined and remains largely unchanged year on year. India reported significant decline in grease production (18%), though much of this is attributed to notable declines in survey participation.

The report detailed an ongoing trend to lithium complex grease (+2.3%) at the expense of simple lithium grease, and continued growth of polyurea grease, to about 6% of total production. Calcium sulfonate grease observed the most rapid increase compared to other thickeners, a compound annual growth rate of 12%. Non-conventional base oils are increasing in use, led by full synthetics, though conventional base oils still represent 90% of total grease production.