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The global demand for jute products and Bangladesh's role

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Jute vegetable fiber

The world has witnessed an unprecedented shift towards sustainable alternatives, driven by environmental consciousness and economic imperatives. Among these alternatives, jute stands out for its eco-friendly properties and economic viability. But what exactly is jute? A cash crop of Bangladesh widely recognised as 'golden fibre', jute's rise as a viable material in the global market isn't merely a response to current trends; it's a nod to its intrinsic value as a versatile, biodegradable resource.

With its sprawling jute fields, Bangladesh has emerged as a pivotal player in this landscape. As the world's largest producer of jute, accounting for 58% of global jute production, latest figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) indicate, Bangladesh isn’t just catering to rising demands — it's setting the gold standard. A glance at the numbers corroborates this: the country’s exports of raw jute and jute-based products manufactured from it contribute 1% to the country's GDP and account for 3% of the overall export earnings, according to IMARC Group.

Jute in Bangladesh, a deep-rooted legacy

Following the global surge in interest towards jute and its related goods, a deeper dive into its origins and significance in Bangladesh becomes essential. Beyond being the world's largest producer, the country has a profound relationship with this ‘golden fibre’, one that's woven into its cultural and economic tapestry.

Historically, jute has been integral to Bangladesh, not just as a product for trade but as a symbol of its agrarian roots. The country’s landscape is dotted with numerous jute mills, emphasising its role in modern trade. These mills, equipped with advanced techniques, efficiently process raw jute, transforming it into a myriad of products that cater to global market trends.

Beyond its commercial importance, jute is a beacon of employment in Bangladesh, from which livelihoods are offered to countless families. This isn’t just about numbers; it's a testament to the country's dedication to maintaining its legacy while innovating for the future. As the global business ecosystem leans towards sustainability, Bangladesh’s commitment to the production and export of quality items made from jute ensures it remains a pivotal player in the march towards a greener future.

Woman holding  jute bag or sack bag on white background. Reusable shopping bag. Natural material. Zero waste. Plastic free. Eco friendly concept.

The Sonali Bag, a sustainable innovation

In 2010, amidst an escalating plastic waste crisis, Bangladesh introduced a transformative solution: the Sonali Bag. This creation by scientist Mubarak Ahmad Khan is derived from jute, and its name 'Sonali', a Bengali term, fittingly translates to 'golden'.

While the Sonali Bag resembles conventional plastic bags, its environment-friendly attributes distinguish it. Crafted from biodegradable jute cellulose sheets, these bags naturally decompose within three months when buried.

The urgency for such an innovation is evident in Dhaka's consumption patterns, where around 14 million polyethylene bags are used daily. Despite Bangladesh's ban on plastic bags more than 20 years ago, the environmental challenge persisted, exemplified by waterways like the Buriganga River accumulating thick layers of discarded plastic.

Globally, plastic pollution remains a pressing concern. As such, 127 nations have all started to enforce plastic bag restrictions. This growing international interest in sustainable alternatives presents a golden opportunity for Bangladeshi businesses specialising in the manufacturing and exporting of jute-based products to expand their market presence and contribute to an eco-friendlier world. 

Navigating the challenges of jute logistics 

Jute is assessed based on several factors, including its tensile strength, uniformity, and colour. High-quality jute often has a light yellowish to reddish tint. However, shifts towards a brown or green colour can indicate challenges during its processing, potentially due to inadequate water retting or contact with acids.

When prepared for export, jute is organised into hanks and then compressed into bales of approximately 181 kilograms. Within Bangladesh, jute is typically transported in less compressed forms, known as kutcha bales.

A significant challenge in handling jute is its susceptibility to moisture. Exposure to high moisture levels can cause rapid deterioration of the fibre. Therefore, it's crucial to store jute in cool and dry conditions. Another aspect to consider is jute's hygroscopic nature, meaning it can draw and hold moisture from its surroundings. This property can be deceptive, as jute may not feel damp to touch even if it has absorbed up to 34% of its weight in water.

When jute becomes damp, it can promote microbial activity, which in turn generates heat. Storing jute in large, tightly packed stacks without adequate ventilation can trap this heat, elevating the temperature within the stack. In scenarios with other contributing factors, such as the presence of oil residues or potential ignition sources, the risk of spontaneous combustion can increase significantly.

It's essential for those involved in jute's global trade to understand and manage these logistical challenges. Doing so ensures the quality and safety of jute products, meeting the increasing global demand effectively.

Optimising your jute exports with DHL Express

When it comes to the trading of jute, having a reliable partner for overseas shipping is indispensable. Jute, with its specific handling and storage requirements, demands meticulous attention during transport. DHL Express, known for its excellence in logistics, is adept at managing such complexities.

As Bangladesh continues to lead the world in jute production and export, businesses here have an unparalleled opportunity to capture significant market share. However, partnering with a trusted name in international shipping is essential to ensure that your products are delivered in optimal condition and on time.

By signing up for a DHL Express Business Account, you're not just choosing a shipping solution; you're investing in reliability, speed, and expertise tailored for the jute industry. Elevate your shipping standards and ensure your jute products are delivered with the care they deserve.