Burlap or Hessian Packaging Market: Recent Industry Developments and Growth Strategies Adopted by Players

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The size of the global hessian or jute or burlap market is estimated to be approx. US$ 1.7 Bn. India alone accounts for more than 70% of the global hessian production. Globally, there are 12 publically traded companies which are engaged in hessian or jute business. Among these 5 prominent leaders are headquartered in Indian subcontinent.

The hessian fibre is extracted from the stem of jute plant. Hessian is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable. Hessian products include hessian bags (food grain bags, shopping bags, promotional bags etc.), hessian mats, ropes, yarn etc. Plastic (Polypropylene (PP)) bags are the substitute for hessian bags.

But the negative environmental effects of plastic bags give credibility to hessian bags over plastic bags. Growing resistance towards plastic bags due to rising plastic waste in sea, landfill problem, etc. putting downward pressure on plastic packaging. Hessian bags are food grade, anti-static, easily allow fresh air (can keep food grains fresh).

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Jute industry alone provides employment to 3.7 lakh jute mill workers in India of which 2.5 lakh are present in West Bengal state (source: economic times). The hessian packaging industry in India also affects lives of more than 40 lakh jute producing farmers. Hessian products are environmental friendly and 100% bio-degradable, whereas plastic bags take many years to degrade.

According to an article published by World Economic Forum: Costa Rica wants to be the first country to ban all single-use plastics. By 2050, plastic waste in sea overweighs the weight of fish life. Costa Rica is the first country to ban all the single use plastics by 2021. It includes bags, straws, cups, cutlery etc. Over the years, applications of hessian are increased and still the trend continues. Today hessian is used in shopping bags, promotional bags, door mats, weather protection sheets, ropes, book covers or pouches, gifts etc.

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In 1987, India passed the Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPMC), which made central government compulsory to purchase hessian or jute bags for supply and storage of food grain, sugar, fertilizer and cement. Over the years, cement and fertilizers are removed from the list. And again in 2015, India once again made and approved mandatory use of jute or hessian packaging for food grains and sugar. HDPE/PP bags are cost competitive for jute or hessian packaging.

Per kg cost of hessian bags costs around US$ 0.5 (Rs. 30), while the cost of HDPE/PP bags is US$ 0.2 (Rs.12) per kg. As the government is bringing various schemes and programs to educate public to use the jute or hessian packaging, the hessian packaging market is expected to grow at a healthy growth rate. Changing weather conditions may affect the hessian farm output, and may result in price fluctuations. Overall the hessian packaging market has good potential to grow in coming years.

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