A rubber band is not just a rubber band and in the binding of flowers, not all kinds of rubber bands are suitable. The tensile strength, which means how well the band stretches and reverts back to its normal form/size, is essential for any purpose but for flower binding in particular as this, as well as the sizing, is quite specific. “Binding flowers is a delicate task.
The rubber band should hold the flowers together, but should not damage them”, says NS Narula of Jascorp, a raw rubber producer with their head office in Singapore and production base in Thailand. They have been supplying rubber bands worldwide for 12 years now and after a dip in demand at the start of the pandemic, the market demand has come back relatively fast.
Thailand: world’s largest raw rubber producer
Thailand is the largest producer of raw rubber in the world and therefore also takes a big share in the rubber band market. Also Jascorp's production base is in Thailand, and since the establishment of the company, they have grown quickly. Rubber bands are one of their products which they supply in many fields, including horticulture, agriculture and stationary. Each and every field has its own requirements regarding the size, content, tensile strength and so on.
Rubber bands in floriculture
Due to the large application base, Jascorp supplies their rubber bands all over the world, and for the floral industry, the majority of the bands go to farms in Kenya, Ethiopia, Colombia, Ecuador, as well as farms in the Netherlands and other European countries, but also the USA and Canada. Over the years, the demand for rubber bands has increased and according to Narula, the stable and strong demand from the flower industry contributed to this growth.
What kind of rubber band for flowers?
A rubber band is not just a rubber band, and in every field, requirements are different. “The flower farms require specific sizes and tensile strengths to ensure that their flowers are not damaged during packing or binding. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot and expanded our assortment accordingly.” And not only in sizes and tensile strength, also in content of the product. They are able to manufacture the rubber grades (Crepe & Compound) from 60% quality to 100% (60% grade is economic and 100% grade is highest quality with greater stretch ability and greater holding capacity). “In this way, we try to have a suitable option for every type of grower.”
The COVID-19 crisis affected the demand for flowers and in turn, the demand for products used to process flowers. Narula: “For 2 months, COVID-19 severely affected the demand as flower farmers were not able to export their product. Therefore, they did not have to buy as much as they do regularly.” Fortunately, as the markets opened up quite quickly which resulted in a demand coming back relatively fast."
Overall, they see an increase in demand for raw rubber, which is pushing up the prices for rubber products. "At the moment, the demand for raw rubber seems to be relatively strong, and since this is the raw material used in the manufacturing of rubber bands, this has also affected the prices for rubber bands. This trend of slowly rising prices is likely to continue."
However, according to Narula, this expected rise in rubber band prices will have very little impact on the overall selling price of flowers. "The prices of the flowers exported are more dependent on the prices of the flowers itself. The rubber bands are just a small fraction of the flower exporter's overall cost. And on top of that, rubber bands are an intrinsic and necessary component for the flower industry with hardly any alternative to it."