The availability of natural rubber, one of nature's most widely used substances found in 40,000 commercial products, should not be taken for granted.
The $40 billion industry, already facing challenges from a devastating fungus to cyclical supply/demand swings, was hammered by Covid-19 which caused numerous latex processors to got out of business.
A Rubber Apocalypse?
Now demand is back (industry could grow to $68.5 billion by 2026) and some folks are predicting a possible rubber shortage . . . a rubber apocalypse if you will.
Synthetic rubber has its uses and rubber alternatives for tires are being heavily researched by tire companies. But natural rubber, due to its rather unique properties, is still used in all tires. Airplane tires rely solely on natural rubber by the way.
We Have You Covered
The good news is the CMA/Double Coin manufacturing facility in Thailand is right where the world’s natural rubber is harvested. Thailand, in fact, is the world's #1 natural rubber producer.
At this point, the tire industry has a lot more to worry about than looming rubber shortages . . . such as global freight constraints. By the way, we are in a better position than many tire manufacturers by having our own state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Thailand and long established shipping contracts with major ocean and inland carriers. But if we have learned anything in the past few years, it is the value of being prepared for potentially disruptive global events.
Where Does Rubber Come From?
Humans have been collecting sap from rubber trees for more than a 1,000 years by cutting slits in the trees (much like maple syrup is collected); the practice is believed to have started in what is now Central and South America.
There is a rubber plantation right next to our plant in Thailand. You can see the rubber workers in action in this video which also takes you inside one of the world's most advanced plants now rolling about 4,000 TBR, OTR and IND tire units per day.
Also, here's a fascinating just published video which explains the history of natural rubber, its importance to the global economy and potential supply problems down the road.