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Description | Overview | History | Cultivation pattern | Rubber producing countries | Indian rubber market | Major trading centers | Contract specifications

Rubber is a polymer consisting of hydrogen and carbon and is elastic in nature. It is found in the fluid of some specific plants but it can also be produced synthetically. Naturally, rubber is produced by the process of tapping of the plant called Hevea Brasiliensis. These plants generally have 32 years of economic life but they may live up to 100 years or even more than that. Synthetic rubber is produced through the process of polymerization of various monomers.

The basic property of rubber is that it comes back to its original shape if it is twisted or stretched but if heat is applied to the rubber, it wont return to its original shape easily.


Rubber is found in two varieties – Natural Latex and Natural Rubber.

  • Natural Latex is referred to a fluid, white in color, which is attained from rubber tree. It comprises of small rubber particles and plant proteins.

  • Natural Rubber is produced with the help of either of the two processes – Natural Rubber Latex process (NRL) or Dry Natural Rubber process (DNR) and it includes all the products made from latex.

The rubber industry produces wide range products like auto tyres, auto tubes, automobile parts, footwear, belts, cables & wires, battery boxes etc. Block rubber, Preserved Latex, Crepes and sheets are some forms in which rubber is produced and used.

  The world’s total production of rubber was 7.9 million tons in 2003 and the Asian countries dominated it with 6.76 million tons i.e. about 85% of the total world’s produce. Thailand, Indonesia and India are the topmost rubber producing countries in the world. World’s total rubber consumption in 2003 was 7.89 million tons including synthetic rubber consumption of 1.13 million tons i.e. about 14% of the total consumption. The natural rubber consumption is largely contributed by the automobile industry and the transportation sector. The tyres and tubes producing companies like Pirelli and Bridgestone etc requires lakhs of tons of natural rubber annually. The leading consumer country of rubber is China with a figure of 1215000 tons of rubber consumed during 2001. India comes at the fourth place when the consumption of rubber is concerned with a total consumption of 631000 tons in 2001 after U.S.A and Japan.

  Rubber industry is very sensitive as the price of rubber is constantly changing and any economic decline or rise affects the rubber industry to a large extent.


Like maize, rubber also owe its existence to South America. Since a long time, the central and the south americans had collected rubber from a plant named Castilla elastica. These people used to play a ball game by making balls of rubber. The natives came to know about the various uses of rubber and understood the importance of it. Other than playing games with rubber balls, rubber was also used in making temporary shoes, fixing stone and metal tools to wooden handles and making water proof clothes.


When the europeans explored the american continent, they were all astonished to see a material like this and how these native americans used it. Likewise the whole world was introduced to rubber. It was later found that rubber was successful in erasing or rubbing the pencil marks on the paper. Thts how this material got the name ‘Rubber’.


Cultivation pattern

The most common rubber plantations consist of a plant Hevea Brasiliensis. It is a tall, lean plant, which is the most economical plant for rubber production. The latex is extracted from the plant by making a slanting cut in the bark of the trunk. It is called tapping of rubber. Initially this plant was found in South America but it was introduced to the rest of the world and now Asian countries have become the leading producers of rubber by adopting and cultivating this plant. At least, the 1st 6 years of this plant do not produce any rubber and to reach the tapping stage it may take even about 12 years.

Rubber plantation needs a hot and humid climate to prosper. These plants have great quality of sustaining in the drought condition but it prefers humid and wet conditions to grow.


  The natural rubber can be produced using the following processes: -

  • Dry Natural Rubber process – In this process, the rubber is compressed at high pressure and temperature. The allergic proteins lose their nature in these conditions and hence become less risky.

  •   Natural Rubber Latex process – In this process, rubber is produced by suspending the natural latex in a concentrated colloidal form. It includes a greater amount of allergic proteins that makes it a more risky.

Rubber producing countries
  • Thailand (2357000 tons)
  • Indonesia (1543000 tons)
  • India (632000 tons)
  • Malaysia (546000 tons)
  • China (451000 tons)
  • Vietnam (317000 tons)
  • Liberia (109000 tons)
  • Sri Lanka (86000 tons)
  • Brazil (80000 tons)
  • Philippines (66000 tons)
  • Nigeria (50000 tons)
  • Cambodia (47000 tons)

Thailand started a replanting program in 1991 and as a result it became the leading producer and exporter country replacing Malaysia. Thailand’s rubber has become the world’s largest used rubber and the whole world is dependent upon it as Thailand has a strong base on research and development of rubber.

Production of rubber in India

Unlike the world production of rubber which was unstable during the last 10 years, Indian production is consistently growing @ 6%. The areas in India on which the rubber is produced can be divided into 2 zones – traditional and non-traditional. Traditional zone comprises of the southwest coastal regions of India i.e.

  • Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu

  • Districts of Kerala.

  Non-traditional zone constitutes

  • Coastal regions of Karnataka

  • Goa

  • Andhra Pradesh

  • Orissa

  • Some areas of Maharashtra

  • Northeastern states (mainly Tripura)

  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands

  Kerala contributes 90% of India’s total production. Also, Kerala and Tamil Nadu share 86% of the growing area of natural rubber.

Indian rubber market

As mentioned above, India stands at the third place in the list of rubber producing nations in the world. Also, India is the leading producer of reclaim rubber and has the capacity to fully consume its natural rubber production. India’s production fluctuates around 6-7 lakh tons annually which amounts to Rs. 3000 crores. Kerala accounts for 90% of the total Indian produce. 72% of the total rubber production is in the form of Ribbed Smoked Sheets (RSS), which is also imported by India accounting for 45% of the total rubber imports.

  As of Indian natural rubber consumption, it stands at the fourth place after USA, China and Japan. Turnover of Rs 12000 crores is done by the Indian rubber industry. Most of the rubber is consumed by the tyre industry i.e. 52% of the total production of India. Kerala is the leading consumer of rubber in India followed by Punjab and Maharashtra.

  India largely exports rubber in the form of tyres which make worth of around 1200 crores a year. The exports of Indian natural rubber have increased dominantly during the past few years and have reached 76000 tons in 2003-04. The major market countries of Indian exports are: -

  • China

  • Malaysia

  • Indonesia

  • Turkey

  • Sri Lanka

  • Spain

  • Pakistan

  • Singapore

  • Nepal

  • Germany

Though, India is one of the leading producers of rubber, it still imports rubber from the countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Sri Lanka as under the Advance License Scheme, re-export of the imported rubber is permitted with a condition i.e. 44 kg  of  natural rubber can be imported against 100kg of exports. Currently India is importing around 50000 tons of rubber annually.

  Market Influencing Factors

  • Production of rubber fluctuates on a monthly level keeping low in the rainy season

  • Production growth in automobile industry

  • Ratio of domestic rubber utilization and imported rubber utilization

  • Government policies

  • International price movements of rubber

  • Speculation

  • Hoarding and storability

Major trading centers of rubber


  • Tokyo Commodity Exchange

  • Singapore Commodity Exchange

  • Osaka Mercantile Exchange

  • Kuala Lumpur

  • London

  • New York

In India, rubber is traded at

  • Kottayam

  • Kochi

  • Kozhikode

  • Kannur

It is also traded at the Indian commodity exchanges like National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange ltd, Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd and National Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd


Future contract specifications of rubber in various commodity exchanges
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