Coir pith exports from the country fetched ₹2,259 crore in 2021-22, making up 52 per cent of total exports of coir and products. Coir pith is in demand as it is increasingly used in horticulture and home gardening.

The US and Netherlands lead the group of 83 countries that import coir pith, considered a plant-growing medium over the last few years. It is an alternative to Peat Moss, a primary ingredient in seed-starting and potting mixes, sources in the industry told BusinessLine.

D Kuppuramu, Chairman, Coir Board, said a record 12,34,855 tonnes of coir and products were exported fetching ₹4,340 crore last fiscal against 11,63,213 tonnes at ₹3,779 crore in 2020-21. The Board is now betting on ₹7,000 crore worth coir and products exports in a couple of years.

The US topped the list in overall coir and products’ imports with 30 per cent in value and 17 per cent in volume terms. China is the second-largest importer and other significant importers are the Netherlands, South Korea, UK, Spain, Australia, Italy, Germany and Canada.

Tufted mats performance

Tufted mats took the second spot in the export basket, overtaking coir fibre with ₹1,001 crore (23 per cent) earnings. Coir fibre with an earning of ₹636.56 crore constituted 15 per cent of the total exports.  The value-added items put together constituted 33 per cent of the total exports. Overall, exports have registered a six per cent growth in quantity and 14 per cent in value, he said 

Besides, handloom mats, coir yarn, power loom mats, rugs and carpet, coir rope, curled coir and coir other sorts registered growth in quantity and value. However, products like handloom matting, power-loom matting, coir geotextiles and rubberized coir showed declining trend.

Mahadevan Pavithran, Managing Director, Travancore Cocotuft, a leading coir exporting firm, pointed out that coir pith and tufted mats were the biggest beneficiaries of a panic buying in 2021. This was because of the disruption caused by the Chinese lockdown and supply chain breakdown, leading to empty shelves in retailers’ shops in early 2021. The retailers and manufacturers went on an ordering spree to counter the trend amid the massive supply chain crisis.

The volume of coir fibre has not shown increase in line with the coir pith exports because of Indonesia commening shipments in a big way to China. Indonesia has the biggest bank of coconut trees planted across its 17,000 islands, he said.

The biggest beneficiary was the Home DIY (Do it Yourselves) stores and major retailers in the US and Europe, which contributed to a sudden surge in door mat and coir pith buying, he said.