Natural rubber

The global natural rubber market

World production of natural rubber is estimated at 13.8 million tonnes per year on average over the 2012-2021 period, of which 89% comes from the Asian continent. The largest producing countries are Thailand and Indonesia with respectively 4.6 million tonnes and 3.2 million tonnes produced on average per year over the period 2012-2021, or 60% of global production.

Natural rubber
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Natural rubber

Image representing natural rubber

The vast majority (80%) of natural rubber comes from family plantations, between 0.5 and 10 ha (Laroche et al., 2022).

Natural rubber has specific properties of resilience, tensile strength, abrasion resistance and low internal heating, making it indispensable for the production of tyres. As a result, 73% of the world’s consumption of natural rubber is used for the production of tyres. It is recognised as a strategic raw material by the European Union.

The natural rubber supply chain is complex and fragmented: it is composed of smallholder farmers, commodity traders, processing plants, traders and rubber product manufacturers.

Natural rubber production is mainly located in Asian countries which are responsible for 89% of global production on average over the period 2012-2021. Thailand leads the race with an average of 4.6 million tonnes produced per year over the same period. In fact, Thailand is the first importer of natural rubber to Europe, it produces 18% of imports from the European Union in 2021.

At European level, France is the third largest consumer of natural rubber (9.3%) after Germany (17.3%) and Spain (15.6%).

The challenges of the natural rubber industry in France

In France, natural rubber is mainly used for the manufacture of tyres and for industrial-type applications for the manufacture of anti-vibration parts for the automotive industry, by the footwear industry and for the manufacture of glues and adhesives, bottle nipples, gloves, etc.

Over the 2012-2021 period, France imports an average of 389,000 tonnes of rubber per year, or 6 kg per capita.

The countries of origin of rubber imported by France are primarily Indonesia, which produces on average, over the period 2012-2021, 113,000 tonnes to France, or 29% of French imports. Then come Thailand, Ivory Coast and Malaysia.

In France, the rubber processing industry (natural and synthetic) employed 44,500 people in 2018, 53% of which were in the pneumatic sector.

Rubber footprint

Over the 2012-2021 period, France’s imports of natural rubber are on average equivalent to 364,000 hectares per year, or 55 m2 per capita.

Durable natural rubber

The two main collective approaches to sustainable rubber development are the Sustainable Natural Rubber Initiative (SNR-i) of the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Rubber (GPSNR).

389 000
of rubber are imported to France every year

44 500
are employed in the rubber processing industry (natural and synthetic) in France

of the rubber industry serves the tyre sector

Sources :

  • Comité Scientifique et Technique Forêt (CSTF)
  • ETRma
  • SDES : Importations françaises de matières premières visées par la Stratégie nationale de lutte contre la déforestation importée entre 2012-2021 - Vers une empreinte terre de la France (Décembre 2023)