KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—In some respects, the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the natural rubber industry as demand for certain health care products, such as medical gloves, continues to rise. Overall, however, that isn't enough to offset the significant drops in demand and consumption from other sectors, particularly the automotive and tire industries, the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries said in its most recent report.
For the third time this year, the ANRPC revised downward its natural rubber production and consumption projections, citing the "turbulent" impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the monthly report issued May 6, the association lowered its 2020 production estimate to 13.4 million metric tons, down 2.3 percent from the previous year. The revised figure is 679,000 tons lower than predicted in the outlook presented just one month ago: 14.1 million tons at 2.2 percent growth.
Global NR production also fell 3.6 percent year-on-year to 2.9 million tons during the first quarter of 2020.
The association noted a "more severe impact" from the coronavirus in April, adding that preliminary estimates by member states suggested a 6.4 percent fall in production to 5.6 million tons in the first half.
ANRPC also lowered its projections for world consumption in 2020. It now estimates consumption will be at 13 million tons, down 5.1 percent from the previous year. That also is 516,000 tons lower than last month's forecast of 13.5 million tons, at 1.5 percent negative growth.
Based on preliminary estimates, world consumption of NR fell 20 percent year-on-year during the first quarter, and it is anticipated to register a 15.5 percent drop during the first half of the year.
In January, ANRPC predicted a 3.8 percent annual growth in NR production to 14.3 million tons. Demand was expected to grow 2.7 percent to 14 million tons.