Rubber is a versatile product with multiple usages. It is grown in various countries worldwide and plays a crucial role in the Indian economy too. India is one of the leading rubber producers in the world.
The use of rubber is widespread, ranging from household to industrial products, entering the production stream at the intermediate stage or as final products. Tyre and tubes are the largest consumers of rubber. The remaining 44% is taken up by the general rubber goods sector, which includes all products, except tyres and tubes. Synthetic rubber is mainly used for the production of auto tyres and tubes, cycle tyres and tubes and footwear. Other applications for the synthetic variety are camel back, belts and hoses. The market segmentation includes Auto tyres and tubes 56%, Bicycle tyres and tubes 9%, Footwear 18%, Latex goods 8%, Belts and hoses 4%, Camelback 5%.
India, being the fourth largest producer of natural rubber in world, is considered to be one of the key players in the global rubber business. The entire requirement of rubber-based industries for natural rubber, synthetic rubber, rayon and nylon tyre cord, steel cord, carbon black and rubber chemicals, etc is being met from indigenous sources. Rapid progress has also been made in the production of natural rubber.
There are about 5000 units comprising 30 large-scale, 300 medium scale and around 4600 small-scale and tiny sector units. These units manufacture more than 35,000 rubber products.
The main producer of synthetic rubber in India has been Synthetics and Chemicals, Apar Industries, Apcotex Lattices and Unimers India. Synthetics and Chemicals had closed down.
The future for natural rubber looks bright. Ever increasing volumes are being produced. At 5.92 million tonnes per annum, natural rubber has 39 per cent of the world rubber consumption of 15.14 million tonne per annum. The rubber industry is expected to grow at over 8 per cent per annum this decade, as the per capita consumption of rubber is 0.8 kg against 14 kg in the developed world. India is likely to become the world's third-largest producer of natural rubber after Thailand and Indonesia, Rubber Board sources said. And with crude prices unlikely to come down, synthetic rubber is likely to remain a costly alternative. With accelerating demand from automobile industry and other rubber consuming industries in developing countries, the shortage of natural rubber is likely to aggravate in coming years. There exists a huge scope for expansion causing import of machinery, technology and raw materials and export of rubber goods.