I was amazed to read in the FT that 70% of the world's output of latex (from rubber trees) is still used to make car and truck tyres.
But according to Spephen Evans, the secretary-general of the International Rubber Study Group,
'The whole industry is looking very wobbly at the moment.'
(With a quote like that it's a shame he doesn't work for the International Jelly Study Group.)
Rubbber prices are at their lowest level for five years and that will hit farmers on the high plateaux of Attapeu province in Laos where amongst terrain still bomb-cratered from the Vietnam war they have been planting rubber trees since 2007.
The latex industry is mainly made up of smallholder rubber-tappers in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam (and now Laos).
Apparently tyre makers, tired of the swings and roundabouts of rubber prices are looking for alternative materials. Continental, the German tyre manufacturer, is 'not far off the industrial production of a rubber equivalent derived from the roots of the dandelion flower.'