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RUBBER NEWS INT'L: Covid-19 gave Malaysian rubber products a lift, govt data shows
(Last Updated: 30 Jun 2020)

 

 

 

Covid-19 gave Malaysian rubber products a lift, govt data shows

Exports of Malaysian rubber gloves and standard rubber have been particularly healthy since March, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported today. — Picture courtesy of Top Glove Corporation
Exports of Malaysian rubber gloves and standard rubber have been particularly healthy since March, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported today. — Picture courtesy of Top Glove Corporation

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — While many other industries were crippled by the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s movement control order (MCO), Malaysia’s rubber sector gained an unexpected boost.

Exports of Malaysian rubber gloves and standard rubber have been particularly healthy since March, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported today.

 

“The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association highlighted that exports of Malaysian rubber gloves are expected to increase 20 per cent to 230 billion pairs by 2020, an increase of 192 billion pairs from previous year,” DOSM said in the second volume of the Malaysia Economic Statistics Review for 2020.

It said global demand for rubber gloves is expected to increase by 15 to 20 per cent compared to the usual demand growth of 8 to 10 per cent.

 It noted a similar trend in 2009 during the H1N1 outbreaks, which saw global demand increase by 17 per cent.

“Standard Malaysian rubber dominated the exports with 96.2 per cent, followed by latex concentrate at 3.6 per cent and other types at 0.2 per cent.

“Meanwhile, the highest exports by item in April was rubber gloves with a value of RM1,984.4 million, an increase of 11.6 per cent compared to March,” DOSM said.

The top three export markets for Malaysian rubber gloves were the United States, China and Germany respectively.

At 97,770 tonnes, the US had a 300 per cent surge compared to 24,388 tonnes in March.

Malaysian rubber glove exports also showed an increase in countries with high Covid-19 cases such as Brazil, Spain and Canada.

DOSM said Malaysia’s production of natural rubber in April stood at 34,616 tonnes, growing by 0.3 per cent in comparison with March’s output of 34,506 tonnes.

When compared to the same period last year, growth was two per cent.

“The smallholdings category which contributed 90.7 per cent to the natural rubber production grew 0.4 per cent to 31,389 tonnes as compared to March which was 31,252 tonnes. Contrasting with April last year, the production increased 2.3 per cent for the same month this year.

“Natural rubber stocks increased by 0.5 per cent in April to 321,214 tonnes compared with 319,486 tonnes in March while annual growth shows a significant increase of 75.9 per cent. This marks the highest stocks of natural rubber since 2014,” DOSM said.

Decline in natural rubber

It said Malaysia’s natural rubber exports dropped 10.2 per cent in April with a value of 40,596 tonnes as compared to 45,198 tonnes in March.

“The highest exports of natural rubber was to China at 48.9 per cent, followed by Germany at 12.1 per cent, the United States at 6.2 per cent, Iran at 5.3 per cent, and Taiwan at 3.5 per cent,” DOSM said.

Domestic consumption of natural rubber also slid 11.2 per cent to 39,208 tonnes in April compared to 44,169 tonnes in the same month last year.

On a monthly basis, domestic consumption declined 7.9 per cent from 42,555 tonnes, which contributed to the increase in the stocks of natural rubber.

The most significant drop was due to the tyres and tubes industries, which only used 312 tonnes as compared to 2,438 tonnes last month, making it a 87.2 per cent decrease.

DOSM said the rubber gloves sector dominated at 89.5 per cent with 35,080 tonnes of total domestic consumption in April 2020, followed by rubber thread sector at 5 per cent.

“A total of 10,194 employees in rubber estates was recorded in April, an increase of 0.8 per cent from March, with an annual decrease of 8.7 per cent.

“Directly employed workers stood at 6,525, or 64.0 per cent of the total number of workers in rubber estates, followed by 1,858 or 18.2 per cent contract basis employees,” it said.

In April, rubber estate employees’ salaries and wages registered RM14.0 million, declining by 0.5 per cent from the previous month. Similarly, the salaries and wages also declined 9.0 per cent  to RM15.3 million as compared to the same month last year.

Rubber glove demand to hit 300b, 63pc supplied by Malaysia

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Rubber glove demand to hit 300b, 63pc supplied by Malaysia

: The global demand for  gloves is estimated to reach 300 billion gloves this year, with an expected annual growth of 12 per cent, according to the Malaysian  Glove Manufacturers Association (Margma).

It said out of the total, 188 billion gloves would be produced by , which is the world’s largest producer and leading exporter of , contributing 63 per cent of global supply, followed by Thailand (18 per cent),  (10 per cent) and  (3.0 per cent).

The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida), the government agency that oversees and drives investment into the manufacturing and services sectors, quoted Margma in its e-newsletter for March 2019.

 

The e-newsletter is Mida’s monthly industry update for global .
Meanwhile, Mida has projected that export revenue for rubber gloves will reach RM19.88 billion this year, up from the RM18.8 billion estimated by industrial players in 2018.

“Notably, made-in- gloves are expected to be exported to over 195 countries worldwide in 2019,” it said.

Mida said overall, the global market for the medical rubber gloves industry showed a positive trend, driven by the increase in the world standard of healthcare and the ageing world population.

But as the (medical glove) industry becomes more competitive, rubber glove manufacturers were investing heavily in automation as part of efforts to combat rising labour costs and to increase production efficiency, it said.
In line with this, Mida continues to encourage global Industry 4.0 technology providers and industrial automation solution providers to connect with the medical glove manufacturers.

Among the manufacturers, Top Glove Corporation Bhd, the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer, has been aggressively pursuing expansion and continues to strategically digitise its operation.

The company is currently focusing on automating its production lines and is improving efficiency by using data to drive automation in the company.

Meanwhile, the largest nitrile glove producer globally, , has invested over RM14 million to upgrade its enterprise resource planning system as part of its commitment towards realising Industry 4.0. – Bernama

 

Yokohama agrees to support NR farmers in Thailand

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Yokohama agrees to support NR farmers in Thailand

 — Yokohama  Co. Ltd. () has agreed to provide economic support for Thai natural   and to improve traceability to ensure transparency and soundness of the  chain.

Yokohama’s pledge is being coordinated through the Rubber Authority of Thailand, state enterprise under the jurisdiction of Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC), and ties into the company’s “Procurement Policy for Sustainable Natural Rubber.”

YRC said this agreement is a follow-up to a survey on natural rubber plantations in Thailand’s Surat Thani district conducted by its NR processing subsidiary, Y.T. Rubber Co. Ltd. (YTRC), since June last year.

  

YTRC has interviewed about 70 NR farmers and plans to continue the survey with the goal of surveying 500 farmers by year-end 2021. YRC plans to use the survey results to analyze the issues facing NR plantations to enable it to contribute to sustainable NR operations and to improve traceability.

The growth in demand for NR in recent years has  to growing concerns in NR-producing countries and regions about a host of problems, YRC said, including unlawful deforestation, land exploitation,  violations and adverse effects on biodiversity,

To help resolve these problems, YRC is participating in the Sustainable Natural Rubber Initiative (SNR-i) advocated by the .

The company also is active as a founding member of the Global  for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) launched in October 2018.

Among activities YRC has undertaken to secure NR sustainability are:

  • conducting joint research on natural rubber with universities;
  • promoting widespread use of “agroforestry” that contributes to more stable income for the country’s rubber farmers; and
  • holding regular exchanges (Suppliers’ Day) with natural rubber suppliers.

Source:  Business   www.switz-watch.me

 

Feature: Driven by passion to boost ailing local rubber industry

World's first: A test road being built using CMB. —Photos: Malaysian Rubber Board

Malaysian rubber scientists’ innovative rubber coagulation process scores a world’s first in road construction while helping rubber smallholders.

NECESSITY may be the mother of invention for some but other reasons can drive creativity, too.

 

Take Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) chief scientist Dr Nazirah Ahmad for example. The passion to help rubber smallholders struggling to cope with falling rubber prices galvanises her.

Growing up in Alor Setar in the 1960s and 1970s, she watched her father work extremely hard as a rubber tapper on a smallholding to feed his family. It is a memory that has left an indelible mark on her soul. That, coupled with the desire to lift rubber tappers out of the doldrums they are currently in, drove Dr Nazirah to work with her team to answer the MRB’s call and innovate a product that is a world first.

 

They came up with cuplump modified bitumen (CMB), an aggregate that can be used with other components to construct roads. Cuplump is basically the dried rubber lump that forms in the cup tied to the rubber tree into which latex drips. All rubber smallholders in Malaysia use this collection method rather than collecting liquid latex.

“This is the first of its kind in the world and we have patented it, ” said Dr Nazirah, who is the project leader.

“It is considered a real success but we will only be happy if the various authorities and private roadbuilders use CMB to build roads in Malaysia.”

The MRB has been very concerned about dropping rubber prices which have resulted in much hardship for rural Malaysians. This government agency is tasked not only with increasing the rubber yield on smallholdings but also finding ways in which the demand for cuplump rubber could shoot up.

Dr Nazirah said the government is also concerned about the subsidy it has been giving out since 2014 to smallholders every time the price drops below RM2.50 per kilo for cuplump rubber, realising that this could not go on forever.

Mahirah making sure the aggregate mix and road height is correct on the test road.Mahirah making sure the aggregate mix and road height is correct on the test road.

“We started in early 2014 and by the end of that year, we had completed innovating the CMB and tests showed we were ready to start laying trial roads.

“We were excited as we had created something that could eventually boost the lives of the smallholders if the technique is used fully, ” Dr Nazirah said in a recent interview.

“Making smallholders self-sufficient is also a way of giving them back their dignity.”

She emphasised that more than 90% of the rubber producers in Malaysia are smallholders and all of them produce cuplumps, as the logistics involved in transporting liquid latex are costly and cumbersome for smallholders.

“So we thought that using CMB instead of the conventional rubber and other polymers that are being currently used to mix with bitumen would not change the quality of the roads.

“We successfully proved that the performance grade of the CMB is just as good as the conventional aggregates. This was the first step before moving on to field tests.

Kok (in red) being briefed on CMB and how it is used in building roads by MRB chairman Datuk Sankara Nair.Kok (in red) being briefed on CMB and how it is used in building roads by MRB chairman Datuk Sankara Nair.

“We have laid out roads in stretches in many parts of the country, including the stretch leading to our Parliament. These tests have been ongoing for the last three years and we check every three months.

“We are monitoring closely and preparing regular reports on all these stretches.”

Dr Mazlina Mustapha Kamal, who was also on the team, said once tests are acceptable and it is proven that the quality and durability of these roads are just the same, if not better, as conventional roads, the industry will be heading for a boost that the smallholders have not seen in a long time.

She said MRB is working with the Federal Public Works Department (PWD) on the road construction, which has involved some hard work on the part of her team, but added that the challenge is worth it.

Mahirah Mohd Idris, another team member, said they had to work under the scorching sun daily to measure the height of the roads being constructed and ensure that the mixing of all aggregates meets specifications.

“After four years of trial runs, our endeavours have been fairly successful. Of course there were some issues but these are expected, as in any trials, ” she said.

Dr Nazirah explained that these complaints were because of construction defects and had nothing to do with the quality of CMB:

“It’s like baking a cake, if the ingredients are not measured properly before baking, you won’t get a perfect cake.”

Among the scientists involved in the project are (from left) project leader Dr Nazirah Ahmad, Dr Mazlina Mustapha Kamal and Mahirah Mohd Idris.Among the scientists involved in the project are (from left) project leader Dr Nazirah Ahmad, Dr Mazlina Mustapha Kamal and Mahirah Mohd Idris.

Dr Nazirah said it was not an easy task to promote the use of CMB to the relevant government agencies that build roads in the country, as they were concerned about higher costs and long-term durability.

“In any production, the cost is related to volume of demand. Right now the total length of CMB roads we have constructed is only about 50km. Obviously, the cost per km of construction will be high.

“But Malaysia has a road network of 250,000km, which is a huge market for us to exploit in the interest of the smallholders directly and the rubber industry as a whole.

“And while bringing down the cost, it will increase the revenue of smallholders substantially.

“Besides PWD, the largest roadbuilders in Malaysia is UEM. If we slowly but surely convert these roads to CMB material, we are talking business here, ” she said.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall has agreed to work with MRB to use CMB widely in its road networks, which will give CMB a major boost, Dr Nazirah said.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said she is pushing hard for the government to use CMB for road construction in the country eventually. “This year, the Finance Ministry has budgeted RM100mil for this purpose. It will surely be successful and in the interest of the smallholders, we must do this.”

For their innovation