KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The supply of natural rubber (NR) is expected to remain tight in the months to come, due in part to "circular leaf spot disease," which has plagued plantations in northern Indonesia and southern Malaysia, according to NR sector sources.
The issue was the focus of a mid-December visit by the International Rubber Research and Development Board to north Sumatra, Indonesia, and Pahang, Malaysia.
The assessment team found that several plantations in the areas were "severely affected" by the disease, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC).
The disease, the ANRPC said in its December 2022 monthly report, has been aggravated by more rains during the peak production period.
According to the rubber growers' association, the leaf disease can lead to an estimated 30% productivity loss at the plantations.
In addition, the association said, supply will also be tight as the region enters into wintering season, when tapping activities will be reduced significantly.
On the other hand, the ANRPC noted that worries over the global economic outlook, allied to a "bearish outlook" for Brent crude, would likely impact a recent price rally in NR prices.
NR prices have started 2023 on a strong note, due in part to a positive economic outlook in China and cyclical demand from top buyers ahead of the Chinese New Year.