Rains stall natural rubber, latex supplies in Kerala, push up prices

Written by Rajesh Ravi | Kochi | Updated: Jun 29 2013, 09:38am hrs
The supply of natural rubber (NR) and latex has dropped sharply due to heavy rains in Kerala. Rubber tapping has virtually come to a standstill for more than three weeks because of heavy monsoon rains, Sunny Jacob, managing director of St Mary's Rubber, the largest supplier of latex and exporter told FE.

The conversion of latex into sheet has also been hampered in the hinterlands of the state, which produces more than 90% of the NR in India. The country is the world's fourth-biggest producer and second-largest consumer of NR after China.

Supply is very tight at the moment. Heavy and continuous rains have made latex collection impossible. Availability of latex and sheet are almost nil," Sunny Jacob said. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) centre in Trivandrum has reported that the state has received 81 % excess rainfall from the start of the current monsoon season on June 1 till June 26. As against the normal rainfall of 540 mm for the period, the state received 977.5 mm of rain in the current year. Rubber Board sources said that prices of RSS 4 rubber sheets have increased to Rs 179 per kg while latex prices have moved up to Rs 132.60 per kg for (60 % dried rubber content).

Meanwhile, India's natural rubber consumption in May fell 3.1% to 83,000 tonnes due to a slowdown in the automotive sector. India makes up about 10 % of world consumption. China accounts for 35 % of global consumption, making it the world's largest user of rubber. US and Japan are the world's third and fourth-largest rubber consumers.

Natural rubber production in India for the current fiscal is estimated to increase to 932,000 tonne in as newly planted trees in the north-eastern states become mature enough to tap.

The International Rubber Study Group pegs the global demand for natural and synthetic rubber at 27.7 million tonne in 2013, recording a annual growth rate of 4% .The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC), which compiles forecasts by member countries, puts total output at 10.65 million tonne in 2012, higher than 10.33 million tonne.