Did you know that the rubber tree is native to South America? Despite this fact, only 2.6% of global natural rubber production takes place in North, Central, or South America each year.
Rubber is an elastic polymer that receives strengthening through a curing process called vulcanization. Natural rubber comes from latex that the trees produce each year, which producers extract through a tapping process so that the fluid can be collected from the cuts made in the bark. If you have seen someone tap a maple tree for sap to make syrup, the process is remarkably similar.
After collecting the fluid, the rubber industry producers will refine the latex into items that are suitable for commercial use.
Synthetic rubber is part of the industry as well. There are currently about 20 different chemical types of this product, with different grades assigned to each category under production. There are some years when 70% of the rubber products that reach the market are of this variety.
Despite the flexibility that this product offers, about 60% of global consumption with the rubber industry involves tire manufacturing.
Interesting Rubber Industry Statistics
#1. Total revenues in the rubber product manufacturing industry in the United States reached $21 billion in 2019. Annual growth in this industry is limited to 0.3% per year because of the high levels of external competition and limited demand for items in vital downstream markets. (IBIS World)
#2. Natural rubber production from the global industry reached almost 13.9 million metric tons in 2018. That figure has doubled the worldwide output of 6.8 million that occurred in 2000. (Statista)
#3. 91% of the world’s natural rubber is produced in the Asia-Pacific region, representing 12.64 million tons of product in 2018. The regions of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East represent another 6.5% of the global rubber industry. (Statista)
#4. Over 772,000 metric tons of natural rubber is used for tubes and tires for various vehicles around the world each year. General goods that come from the raw materials produced by this industry account for another 336,000 metric tons. (Statista)
#5. 60% of the rubber products that the industry processes each year is of the synthetic variety. Manufacturers can create synthetic rubber by using raw petroleum. Dandelion sap and rapeseed oil are potential natural sources for these products as well. (Ringfeder Power Transmission)
#6. Global natural rubber outputs rose by 1.1% in 2016, but global consumption of industrial products during that year climbed by 3.8%. (Report Linker)
#7. Only five countries are responsible for almost 90% of the natural rubber that the world uses each year: India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China. (Report Linker)
#8. Thailand exported about $6 billion in natural rubber in 2017 to lead the world. Only Indonesia came close to them, with export revenues of $5.1 billion. Only three other countries exported $1 billion or more of product that year: Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Ivory Coast. (Statista)
#9. The United States was the 15th-largest exporter of natural rubber in the world in 2017 with $101.9 million in revenues. (Statista)
#10. Thailand produced 4.5 million tons of natural rubber in 2016, making them responsible for about one-third of the industry’s production levels. That made them the third-largest provider in the world. (Report Linker)
#11. The current market value of the rubber industry in Thailand is about $25 billion per year. That means the global value for the natural segment of the industry is about $75 billion annually. (Business Insider)
#12. About half of the natural rubber products that the industry creates are funneled toward the creation of tires. Michelin, Goodyear, and Bridgestone all have significant assets in the Asia-Pacific region so that they can have access to this resource. This level of demand creates growth rates of 12% or more in some years. (Business Insider)
#13. 15% of the natural rubber products go to elastics, 14% is used for gloves, and about 5% is used to create rubber bands. (Thailand Rubber Authority)
#14. 7% of the tires that are created from the natural rubber products that come from the Asia-Pacific region are meant for use on motorcycles. (Thailand Rubber Authority)
#15. About 25% of the rubber that Thailand sends to the market is considered to be “standard.” Compound rubber provides 858k tons each year, and then RSS offers 824k tons. That is a significant change from 1999 when only 8,250 tons of compound rubber was made available. (Thailand Rubber Authority)
#16. The average price for a sheet of rubber from the Asia-Pacific region in 201 was $58.63. That is about 50% lower than what the rate was in 2011. (Thailand Rubber Authority)
#17. China is the leading consumer of natural rubber products in the world today, consuming 5,301 thousand metric tons of product in 2017. That is five times higher than what India consumes at 1,082 thousand metric tons, and it represents an increase of 900,000 metric tons more than 2013 figures. (Statista)
#18. The United States consumed 965,000 metric tons of natural rubber in 2017, placing the country third on the list of leading consumers. (Statista)
#19. Global synthetic rubber production totaled 15.26 million metric tons in 2018. That figure is about 5 million metric tons higher than what the industry produced in 2000. (Statista)
#20. The growth of rubber and plastics end-use in the marketplace grew by 2.9% for the industry. Part of the reason for this increase is the fact that the average annual price per kilogram on the commodity exchanges was $1.57. (Statista)
#21. In the 20-year forecast for rubber pricing, the revenues are expected to stay static. The highest expected rate is just $2.40 per kilogram. (Statista)
#22. The global tire industry sells about 1.6 billion products each year for cars and light commercial vehicles. That figure is about 20% higher than what the industry was able to achieve in 2012. (Statista)
#23. There are only about 100 active firms that produce tires from the global rubber industry. Despite this low number, there are over 40,000 full-time positions available to the U.S. economy because of this activity. (IBIS World)
#24. Ove 360,000 people have employment in the tire industry of Europe, which is a 1% increase in the number of jobs that were available in the previous year. (ETRMA)
#25. There are over 4,300 agencies producing tires from natural or synthetic rubber from the industry. Despite the increase in the number of available jobs, the number of businesses is actually down more than 2% since 2015. (ETRMA)
#26. Almost 5 million tons of tire products are sold in Europe each year because of the efforts of the rubber industry. Almost 289 million tires are sold for cars each year, with another 14 million going to light commercial vehicles. (ETRMA)
#27. The remaining 40% of the rubber that doesn’t go to tires from the industry is used to create consumer products like boots or mulch. (Statista)
#28. The rubber industry helps to create over $32 billion in retail sales for car tires every year, with products for passenger vehicles representing about 65% of the total revenues earned each year. (Statistic Brain)
#29. Although farm tires are a small segment of the rubber industry, it still provides over $500 million in value through global sales each year. Off-road tires contribute another $400 million to industry revenues each year. (Statistic Brain)
#30. Goodyear is the most popular brand of tire that the rubber industry partners with each year, responsible for 15% of the tires that are on the market today. Michelin follows in second with a 12% share for its brand. (Statistic Brain)
#31. Over 60% of tire sales occur through an independently owned business around the world, creating a significant source of revenues for the rubber industry. Locations owned by tire companies represent 8% of the market, while automotive dealerships contribute 7% of the revenues in this segment each year. (Statistic Brain)
#32. Even though Michelin tires are not the top-selling product in the industry, dealers often rank it as their top brand. Bridgestone often ranks higher than Goodyear as well. (Modern Tire Dealer)
#33. About 19 million car tires from the rubber industry are imported to the United States from China each year, a figure that is down more than 35% from 2016. (Modern Tire Dealer)
#34. The average sales margin for tires and rubber products at the wholesale level is about 10%. If you purchase something from an independent dealer, then that percentage rises to 15%. Light truck tires have the highest margins in the industry today at 19%. (Modern Tire Dealer)
#35. When looking at the farm tire market only in the United States, then Firestone sells 1 out of every 5 tires that farmers are using. (Modern Tire Dealer)
#36. Tires that are 17-inches or above represent almost 60% of the available products that are found in the tire and rubber industry today. The average sales price at the retail level for a tire of this size is approximately $115. (Modern Tire Dealer)
#37. Brazil has designated over 300 million acres of land as areas that are well-suited for rubber tree plantings as a way to encourage the industry to grow once again in South America. The country currently represents about 1.5% of the global rubber market. (Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food)
#38. 57% of the rubber industry located in Brazil is in or around the city of Sao Paulo. Bahia is the second-leading provider of opportunities in this sector, grabbing a 15% share of local production levels. (Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food)
#39. Total export values for the rubber industry in Brazil were just under $1 billion in 2016. The United States came in second in the Americas at $819 million in exports, followed by Colombia and Chile at $313 million and $294 million respectively. (WITS)
#40. Brazil produces about 11.3 million tons of natural rubber products each year, but domestic consumption levels are exceptionally high and use almost all of what the industry produces each year. (Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food)
#41. Brazil purchases about $3 billion worth of rubber products each year, with the United States and China providing a 60/40 split respectively in the number of finished items that reach the market for this South American nation. (WITS)
#42. Over 189,000 tons of rubber are produced each year by the industry in Brazil, with only 146,000 hectares in use. If the full expansion efforts are successful, then natural rubber production levels could quadruple for the country in the next generation. (FAOSTAT)
#43. About 65 tons of natural gums from rubber products are produced domestically in Brazil each year. (FAOSTAT)
#44. Recycled rubber from discarded tires is a significant secondary industry that continues to see growth each year. Over 250 million tires are discarded yearly, creating opportunities to make products like field turf, high-absorption pavement, and even new tires. (Rubber-Cal)
#45. 28% of the common workplace injuries that occur during the rubber manufacturing process involve contact with moving machinery. 26% of the incidents document a hit that occurs by a moving or falling object. 13% of the accidents are slips or trips, while manual handling issues represent 9% of the claims that occur. (HSE)
#46. India typically leads the world in the average annual yield for natural rubber with 1,819 kg per hectare of tapped area. Thailand comes in second at 1798 kg, followed by Vietnam at 1,720 kg and Sri Lanka at 1,558 kg. (Kerala Farmer Online)
Rubber Industry Trends and Analysis
There was a natural rubber surplus in the global industry in 2018, creating a threat to the pricing mechanisms for the export market because of the potential for oversupply. An increase in acreage for new rubber trees, additional stocks in warehouses, and the ongoing synthetic manufacturing all create potential revenue threats.
In the next 5-10 years, a growing middle class in India, more wealth opportunities in China, and additional economic growth in the APAC region will create a higher demand for automobiles. That means more rubber will be in demand from the tire manufacturing industry to keep up with the number of extra drivers on the road.
It is a unique conundrum when you see that the countries that experience the most rapid decline in rubber production also have the fastest-growing economies. Malaysia has already seen its industry decline by over 1 million metric tons per year from the 1980s. It may not take long for Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia to take the same path.
If that should happen, there could be more opportunities for the Americas, Europe, and Africa to expand their contributions to the rubber industry.
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