The Important Impact of the Shift Toward Sustainable Castor Oil
As both government and industries shift toward environmentally-friendly practices with an emphasis on finding renewable resources, the global castor oil market has seen positive growth in the last few decades. Castor oil is derived from the castor plant which primarily grows in tropical and subtropical regions. India produces 75 percent of the world’s castor seeds, followed by China and Brazil.
As the world searches for more biodegradable and sustainable products that have a wide variety of uses, castor oil is emerging as an important raw material because it can be utilized in many different industrial applications. Castor seeds contain an oil that is rich in triglycerides, primarily one called ricinolein. These oils have the possibility of being transformed into several different materials including a potential alternative to petroleum-based starting chemicals also called petrochemicals.
As a raw material, castor oil offers several distinct advantages to manufacturers, including its:
- Renewable nature
- Non-competition with food
- Low costs
Despite the recent growing demand for castor oil, many farmers in regions that produce the plant were losing interest in growing castor crops. The reason for this shift came primarily because, in recent years, castor farmers received almost half what they did in previous years due to higher output costs and reduced margins. Over the last tens years, the price of pesticides, fertilizers and water grew by almost 60 percent.
However, the Castor Model Farm Project headed by the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) will allow castor farming to have a higher yield and be more economical, thus improving farmers’ profit margins. This increase in production will also benefit the industries that have a stake in castor oil production, such as suppliers and manufacturers of castor oil-based products. Acme-Hardesty is proud to partner with this project that sets both farmers and stakeholders in a position to thrive.
Below we will discuss the impact sustainable castor oil production could have on a variety of different industries. We will also show how this crop is set to impact the global market as well as stakeholders who are positioned to benefit from a rise in its productivity. But most importantly, we will highlight the importance of the sustainable castor oil initiatives happening now.
The Global Castor Oil Market: Trends & Forecast
Since the early 2000s, the demand for castor oil has been steadily increasing in the world market, not only because of its renewable nature but because of its many uses in a variety of markets. The estimated number of industrial uses continues to increase, but it’s thought to be around 700 different applications. From 2003 to 2013, world castor seed production increased from 1.055 to 1.440 million tons.
But in the last few years, farmers in regions where the plant is harvested started losing interest in castor seed cultivation because of a fall in castor prices and an increase in input costs. However, the SEA is seeking to hinder this decline with an innovative pilot program. In some of the highest castor seed production regions in India, they are setting the stage to make castor farming a profitable venture for farmers once again. Not only are they introducing new practices that will make production more economical, but these techniques also yield a greater harvest.
Although the global castor oil market reached a volume of 824 thousand tons in 2017, a research report published by the IMARC Group anticipates that by 2023, that number will grow to 1,061 thousand tons. There are a few things that could hinder market growth, such as:
- Weather uncertainties
- Unstable castor plant prices
- Shortage of working capital
However, the Castor Model Farm Project seeks to help stabilize the market through their initiative in Gujarat, India.
Importance of the Castor Model Farm Project
In 2016 and 2017, after the downward trend in castor oil production, the SEA began a pilot program designed to bring higher levels of castor cultivation and higher profits for castor farmers living in Gujarat. This part of India accounts for 80 percent of castor production in the country. Named the Castor Seed Yield Improvement Project, the SEA started with 62 farmers in this area. The objectives were to:
- Make castor seed farming more sustainable
- Provide education to area farmers on modern farming practices
- Enhance the castor yield
- Save costs by reducing the use of water, pesticides and fertilizers
- More than double the yield target
With the assistance of experts from Dantiwada Agricultural University, these initial farms participating in the pilot program saw exponential growth of their castor crop. In fact, some of these experimental farms saw yields of 2,500 to 3,000 kilograms per hectare. Now, the SEA is ready to expand the project to 200 farms in five districts of Gujarat, calling it the Castor Model Farm Project. All the farmers involved in the project will receive:
- Certified seeds that are a new hybrid variety of castor free of cost
- Technical expertise
- Other free farm inputs
The initiative hopes to insulate farmers from castor seed price fluctuation, thus sustaining their interest in growing castor crops. It will accomplish this with higher productivity produced by these new farming techniques.
Because of its commitment to sustainability in the production of castor oil, Acme-Hardesty is partnering with the Castor Model Farm Project. We show our passion for this initiative by working closely with farmers to gauge progress and see this industry thrive both for the sake of local farmers and for those who have an active interest in the production of sustainable castor oil.
Castor Oil Products
The oil extracted from castor seeds can be transformed into a variety of materials that can serve as an alternative to petrochemicals. However, unlike these chemicals, castor oil is biodegradable and sustainable, so it is considered to be a “green” resource. There are many products that are either types of castor oil or made from this raw material. Acme-Hardesty is one of the largest distributors of both castor oils and its derivatives, featuring such products as:
- #1 Castor Oil
- 12-Hydroxy Stearic Acid
- AcmeWax 225
- AcmeWax 224
- AcmeWax TGA
- Methyl 12 Hydroxy Stearate
- Dehydrated Castor Oil
- Deodorized Castor Oil
- Dried Castor Oil
- Hydrogenated Castor Oil
- Neutralized Castor Oil
- Pale Pressed Castor Oil
- Ricinoleic Acid
- USP Castor Oil
- Castor-Based Polyols
These products have a long shelf life, and manufacturers who use them are assured good returns because of their many industrial applications, from cosmetics to drilling.
Uses of Castor Oil
The oil extracted from castor seeds and the products produced from the oil find their use in a multitude of sectors. Castor oil has been used for centuries as a medicinal remedy, helping an assortment of maladies including inflammation, diarrhea, infection, joint pain and arthritis. However, it has also found a home in the cosmetics industry because of its ability to fight signs of aging by moisturizing skin, promoting hair growth and preventing stretch marks. It also fades blemishes and reduces pigmentation.
Today, manufacturers have found over 700 uses for castor oil and its derivatives. The plant is easily available at a fairly low cost. Plus, it has a high boiling point and high viscosity, giving it huge potential as a bio-based chemical resource. With more industries concerned about “going green,” the sustainability of castor oil makes it attractive because of these environmental considerations.
Because of its diversity combined with growing environmental concerns, castor oil is presently being utilized in the following industries:
- Cosmetics and perfumeries
- Paints and inks
- And more
Castor oil is extremely versatile and has a unique chemical structure, so the number of uses for this material and its derivatives is projected to increase over the years. This is setting castor oil up to be one of the most sought-after plants.
Importance of Sustainable Castor Oil
The demand for both sustainable and biodegradable products is only growing. As industries and nations become more aware of our environmental footprint, the need for castor oil will continue to rise. Petroleum and natural gas are both non-renewable resources, so it is essential that we begin exploring the potential of sustainable raw materials like castor oil.
Governments across the globe are reconsidering their use of non-renewable resources, and sustainable materials are gaining regulatory support. This is because sustainably-produced castor oil can meet our immediate needs for chemical materials without adversely affecting the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs.
This shift to sustainable castor oil will have positive benefits for many of the stakeholders already invested in the production of this versatile crop:
- Castor Oil Suppliers: Suppliers of castor oil will find that their products are in higher demand than ever. As the market grows for sustainably-produced, bio-based products, castor oil will emerge as a front-runner. The rising cost of non-renewable resources and strict regulations implemented by the governments of various nations will continue to positively support the growth of the castor oil market.
- Manufacturers Using Castor Oil: It is important that manufacturers begin looking for sustainable products to reduce their dependency on petrochemicals. There are a variety of industries that can use castor-based products and derivatives. Plus, as a sustainable resource, castor oil will offer manufacturers a long-term solution to the problem of non-renewable products.
- Castor Seed Producers: A higher demand for castor seeds and the oil derived from them will help farmers from nations where castor is grown by providing them with a better, more secure source of income. Plus, as the market is forecasted to grow, they will be able to stay with castor seed production without having to diversify into other crops.
Benefits of Sustainable Castor Oil
Choosing a sustainable resource like castor oil makes sense in the world we live in. With a growing fear of losing our supply of non-renewable resources, like petrochemicals, it is imperative that we lessen our dependency on them. Also, there are environmental factors to consider as our heavy reliance on petrochemicals is having an adverse effect on our world, such as:
- Pollution and smog
- Climate change
- Damage to ecosystems as we dig for coal, oil and the like
- Large oil spills damaging marine environments
For this reason, governments across the globe are enacting strict regulations and implementing eco-friendly practices. Many industries must increase their use of sustainable resources to abide by these standards.
By championing the use of castor oil and other renewable, sustainable resources, both manufacturers and suppliers are positioning themselves to be forerunners in this market. The demand for castor oil will only grow as we seek to improve environmentally-friendly practices. And with initiatives like the Castor Model Farm Project, we are allowing the producers of this crop to thrive and take advantage of the coming market growth.
Choose Acme-Hardesty For Your Castor Oil Production Purposes
After 70 years of business, Acme-Hardesty has been established as a trusted name, characterized by innovation and growth. We now serve as one of the world’s largest distributors of castor oil and its associated derivatives, as well as other oleochemicals. However, we prefer to see ourselves as the bridge, connecting with suppliers all over the world and bringing these essential raw materials to thousands of manufacturers across North America.
Our main goal is the same as yours — producing products that make the lives of millions of consumers better. However, our focus on sustainability sets us apart. We understand that serving our customers means looking toward the future and finding an alternative to increasingly expensive non-renewable resources.
Our partnership with the Castor Model Farm Project showcases our firm commitment to sustainable solutions. We believe that the uses for sustainable castor oil will only expand as we find more real-world applications for this raw material in the future. That is why we have invested in the farmers of Gujarat, not only to improve their lives but to see exponential growth in the global castor oil market.
If you would like more information about the importance of sustainable castor oil or you would like to order castor oil for your production purposes, contact Acme-Hardesty today. We are always searching for new suppliers that meet both our high standards and that of our customers. Contact us to find out how to participate in our supplier partnership.