Kuala Lumpur – Global natural rubber (NR) output fell 0.7% to 13.76 million tonnes in the year 2019, according to the latest figures released by the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC).
The drop was mainly due to the spread of the the Pestalotiopsis fungal disease, which saw more than half a million hectare of yielding rubber trees being affected, said the ANRPC secretary general R. B. Premadasa in a statement 31 Jan.
While the total harvested area in the member countries expanded by 351,000 hectares 9.5 million ha in 2019, the average yield came down by 110kg per hectare to 1,260 kg per hectare, the ANRPC report noted.
Other contributing factors tot he low average yield included "poor maintenance of rubber holdings" and "substantial fall" in demand from China and India, according to the ANRPC.
World NR consumption also fell 1% to 13.70 million tonnes during the year, as a result of global economic slowdown, “crisis” in the automotive sector, trade uncertainties, and geopolitical factors, said Premadasa, who took over as the ANRPC head in December last year.
While the signing of the US-China trade deals in mid-January renewed hopes on demand from China, "the outbreak of novel coronavirus has clouded the expectation at least for the first quarter of 2020," the ANRPC official noted.
However, according to ANRPC, it is early to gauge the full impact of the outbreak of coronavirus on the demand prospects of NR.
While the outbreak has reportedly halted major industrial activities in China, the disease has generated additional demand for hygiene products such as rubber gloves, the association noted.