However, several stakeholders are relying on exports of matches rather than the domestic market as the business has largely dried up during this lockdown period.
According to M Paramasivam, president, National Small Match Manufacturers Association, Kovilpatti, production would go on nearly after a gap of a month with standard operating procedures. To create a level playing field for workers, he said all workers would be given opportunities and made to work on two shifts from 6 am to 2 pm and the next until 10 pm, Paramasivam said.
J Devadoss, secretary, South India Manufacturers Association, said, there’s a drastic decline in consumption of match sticks during the pandemic. Fearing that smoking would make them more vulnerable to COVID, a vast number of people gave up buying match boxes to light them. Cigarette and beedi users are the most reliable consumers of match boxes, apart from people using it for lighting lamps in houses and prayers in temples.
Moreover, traders of this product from other states has only limited access to Kovilpatti, the largest producer of match sticks, in Tamil Nadu, as production units came up in parts of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Hence, many manufacturers has been relying much on the export market, Devadoss told DT Next on Sunday.
Almost 50 per cent of manufacturing units would have been closed down if the export market is not promising. Thoothukudi and its neighboring Virudhunagar district in Tamil Nadu account for about 80 per cent of total exports from India in today’s formidably challenging market, R Gopalsamy, manufacturer cum exporter from Kovilpatti said.
Despite doubling up of freight charges and raw materials cost, several manufacturers in Kovilpatti managed to survive since export markets are steady. About 90 per cent of the exports are to African countries and the rest to European countries. On a monthly average, about 300 to 350 containers of match boxes are being shipped to overseas countries under the logistic support of Thoothukudi based VO Chidambaranar Port. Each of the shipping containers will have 2,550 cartons and every carton contains 1,000 boxes, Gopalsamy added.