Breaking Boundaries Sustainable Oleochemicals

Team Chemical Market

24 Apr 2024


Oleochemicals have quietly become indispensable in our modern lives. Their origins are rooted in the agricultural bounty of the earth, they are the backbone for an array of industries. They silently facilitate the production of goods that grace our shelves and fill our homes. Outcome of green chemistry that aims to adopt cleaner technologies that address environmental and health challenges, they are also economically viable alternatives. Classified as Biodegradable chemicals, they find diverse applications across various industries.


Oleochemicals are derived from natural oils and fats, typically of plant or animal origin. These are obtained from palm, coconut, soybean, rapeseed, and tallow. Due to their origin, they are classified as Biodegradable chemicals.

Commonly known as  Oleochemical derivatives  they  include :
  • Fatty Acids: They serve as the fundamental building blocks of  Oleochemicals,  obtained by hydrolyzing triglycerides found in oils and fats. They find applications in soaps, detergents, personal care products, and food additives.
  • Glycerin ( Glycerol): A versatile compound, it is a by-product of triglyceride hydrolysis. It is used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food products. Glycerin acts as a humectant that attracts and retains moisture from the surrounding environment, making it valuable in moisturizers and lotions that prevent dryness of the skin.
  • Fatty Alcohols: Produced by the hydrogenation of fatty acids or reduction of fatty acid esters, these are utilized in the production of lubricants and also as raw material for the chemical industry. Additionally, they are employed in the formulation of emollients. These substances soften and smoothen the skin, filling the gap between skin cells, thus improving texture and aesthetics. Another important use is in the production of surfactants, that reduce surface tension between two substances, thus finding application for both industrial and domestic cleaning products.
  • Esters: Formed by the reaction of fatty acids with alcohols, they find applications in lubricants, solvents, and fragrance ingredients. Additionally, they are also used as plasticizers, which is an additive in PVC ( Polyvinyl Chloride) production. They improve the flexibility, durability, and workability of plastics and reduce the stiffness of the material making it easier to mold, shape, and process. They form important constituents in the manufacture of pipes, cables, flooring, and packaging materials.

Market Scenario

Presently the Indian Oleochemicals market is estimated at Rs 14,000 Crores and slated to grow at a CAGR of 3.7 % until 2029. The major drivers are the Personal care, food, and polymers industries. Key players in India include :
  • VVF India Ltd
  • Godrej Industries Ltd
  • 3F Industries Ltd
  • Indo Amines Ltd
  • Universal Bio-Fuels Ltd
  • Oleochem India Pvt Ltd

Region-wise Western India leads in market share in terms of value. Urban centers Of Mumbai, Pune, and Ahmedabad dominate consumption due to a large consumer base and awareness of eco-friendly products.

Present and Future Outlook

 Oleochemicals are preferred for their Eco-friendliness, Biodegradability, and sustainability serving as viable alternatives to their petrochemical-based counterparts.  Three important sectors where Oleochemical market trends can be observed are given below :
  • Pharmaceutical and Personal Care: The ingredients being plant-based, facilitate drug formulation and delivery. There is continuous research being done in this area, which will finally lead to better therapeutic outcomes. Growing awareness favors demand for Oleochemical-based formulations in soaps, shampoos, and lotions due to their skin-friendly qualities.  This is one of the major growth areas for the future.
  • Food industry: Oleochemicals play various roles in foods such as flavor enhancers and texture modifiers. They are used in bakery, confectionery, and dairy products thus replacing chemical-based compounds used earlier. Omega-3 fatty acids which contribute to heart health and well - are also derived from Oleochemicals. Another vital role is the enhancement of the shelf life of food products, which results in reduced food waste and higher consumer satisfaction. An uptick in demand is predicted in the future.
  • Polymer Industry: Extensive research is presently being conducted for the replacement of plastics, as their detrimental effects on the environment are well known. Petroleum-based polymers have resulted in greater affordability, resulting in a more convenient lifestyle. However, we grapple with their safe disposal and harmful after-effects that could linger on for generations. Oleochemical-based bio-polymers like polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and polylactic acid(PHA) have emerged as promising alternatives, with biocompatibility and biodegradability being crucial for successful substitutions.

Spreading awareness through Television and social media,  in educational institutions is crucial to harnessing the benefits of Oleochemicals. Sustainable sourcing of raw materials, eco-friendly manufacturing processes, and the commitment by our Government to encourage the usage of bio-degradable materials will contribute to success in this field.


There is a pressing need to change the mindset of the population that has been used to a single-use, throw-away culture. From the humble origins of natural fats and oils, Oleochemicals have enabled the establishment of sprawling empires of modern industry, driven by ambition and innovation. However, it is imperative not to overlook the delicate balance that sustains our world. For every triumph of science, there exists a corresponding responsibility to safeguard the planet that nurtures us all.


featured More

Contact Now
Have a question or feedback, let us know!

Please enter the string as shown above: