China was the first country in the world to begin developing a silk industry, eventually creating a trading route that would become known as the “Silk Road.” This fabric and raw material would become a significant trend in high society, with the wealthy considering industry products as being a luxury item.
Although this reputation still exists to some extent, silk is also an affordable luxury item for many middle-class households in Europe and the United States. The industry continues to trend well in the Asia-Pacific region through the production of traditional ceremonial wear as well.
90% of the silk products that are manufactured in the world today come from either China or India. The remaining 10% of the industry includes sericulture sectors that are found in Brazil, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and North Korea. China produces over 500,000 fresh cocoons each year, followed by India at 126,000, Uzbekistan at 20,200, and Brazil at 14,000.
The global average for silk production when historical numbers are factored into the data is 80,000 tons per year, of which approximately 70% is produced in China.
Important Silk Industry Statistics
#1. Silk only has a small percentage of the global textile market, estimated to be less than 0.2%. This figure may be slightly more or less because there is a lack of reliable data from most importing countries for this industry. (International Sericultural Commission)
#2. The production base for the silk industry is spread over 60 countries in the world today. (International Sericultural Commission)
#3. 90% of the mulberry production and almost 100% of non-mulberry silk comes from producers that are located in Asia. (International Sericultural Commission)
#4. There are about 1 million workers employed by the silk industry in China each year. India employs about 7.9 million people, while there are 20,000 households in Thailand also counted in the sector. (International Sericultural Commission)
#5. China produced 142,000 metric tons of silk in 2017 to lead the industry. India provided another 31,900 metric tons. The next closest Country for production was Uzbekistan, which offered 1,200 metric tons of product. (International Sericultural Commission)
#6. The global rate of silk production in 2017 totaled 177,507 metric tons. Although this figure is higher than what the industry created in 2013, it is well below the 2015 figure of 202,000 metric tons. (International Sericultural Commission)
#7. The United States is the largest importer of silk products in the world today, while Brazil joins Uzbekistan as the only significant providers of silk yarn and raw silk outside of the Asia-Pacific region. (Texere Silk)
#8. Even though the total harvest of raw silk for the industry has decreased significantly since 2015, the average acquisition price for the silk industry has risen by approximately 13%. (International Silk Union)
#9. The silk fabric and clothing manufacturing industry in China is responsible for approximately $10 billion in revenues each year. There are approximately 800 firms active in this segment today, employing about 76,000 people. (IBIS World)
#10. The annual rate of growth for the silk fabric and clothing manufacturing segments of the industry has averaged 9% since 2013. (IBIS World)
#11. 10% of the silk imports that the United States purchases each year goes to the home furnishings industry. Unlike consumers in Europe, Americans do not have a long tradition of using industry products, so it is not treated with the same reverence. Casual clothing, easy-care textiles, and even thermal underwear are industry staples in the U.S. for the silk industry. (International Trade Forum Magazine)
#12. Over 70% of the silk fabrics that France imports each year have been traditionally used for apparel items. The country also exports these products to the United States with prices often reaching $30 per square meter. (International Trade Forum Magazine)
#13. Kimonos are responsible for roughly 50% of the total raw silk consumption in Japan each year. Up until the 1960s, the Japanese relied almost entirely on domestic production for this need. Now almost all of their silk comes from China. (International Trade Forum Magazine)
#14. The average silkworm will live for about 28 days. Most sericulture facilities have them stay on baskets or trays that are filled with mulberry leaves to encourage production. The average silkworm can increase its overall body weight by over 10,000 times during its life. (Facts and Details)
#15. The silk industry provides the world with approximately 35 different types of raw material to use. Each is grouped into three primary grades, designated as A, B, and C. The silk that is classified as Category A can unravel by strand, giving it an extraordinary ability to stretch out when pulled. (Mariann Silk)
#16. The United States imported over $5 billion in silk products from China in 2010, marking the first year that trade reached this level. (Fibre2Fashion)
#17. The silk industry in China topped $30 billion in revenues for the first time in 2006. (Fibre2Fashion)
#18. There are over 2,200 production facilities in China right now that handle sericulture. Roughly 600 active facilities produce clothing and textiles from the raw materials obtained from the production centers. (Fibre2Fashion)
#19. India exported 1.56 million kg of silk waste in FY16, along with 310,000 kg of raw silk and silk yarn. (Statista)
#20. If you have 8,000 silkworms available, then they can produce enough silk to create approximately 10 blouses. It takes over 350 pounds of mulberry leaves to create this level of production. (Facts and Details)
Silk Industry Trends and Analysis
There are a number of positive reasons why silk continues to be a thriving industry in the world today. This material has found to be effective as an impenetrable apparel item against insect bites. Bedding, traditional clothing, and ceremonial robes are just a few of the segments that continue to do well for sericulture as the world looks toward this natural product as a way to meet their needs.
The silk industry is beginning to explore other uses for this product as well. The electronics industry uses this product for its insulation coils when designing telephones and wireless receivers. Medical professionals are using silk threat for medical dressings and suture materials. Even the automotive industry is exploring how they can incorporate silk into tires to create a better product.
The silk industry will continue to thrive because there is such a wide variety of products available to consumers. From the ordinary to the extraordinary, this raw material has become an essential component in our world today. You can even find it in the manufacturing of disposable cups. Even if production levels continue to decrease, the revenue trend should continue to grow at a 9% rate through at least 2024.
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