Almost 40 years ago, matchsticks used to cost a mere 25 paise, which then a decade or two later rose to 50 paise. The last peak that the matchstick box prices saw was around 2007 when the price was increased to Re 1. For the first time in more than a decade, the price has seen a double hike and will now cost Rs 2 per box.
Matchboxes are ubiquitous among the Indian demography. Be it for household purposes, religious purposes, or personal reasons. What used to be an alternative to loose change is now double the price it used to be sold for.
The All-India Chamber of Match Industry, in unison, decided that the price should increase, citing the proliferation in raw material cost. Currently, the price for a 600-large bundle of matchboxes, with 50 matchsticks each, is sold to retailers for Rs.270-300. However, with the new rates being imposed from December 1, the same bundle will now cost Rs 430-480, reflecting a rise of almost 60%. Moreover, this cost is excluding the 12 per cent GST and the transportation cost.
The manufacturing of matchsticks is concentrated in the southern region of the country, with almost 90 per cent of the production encompassed in Tamil Nadu. Women and men in the neighbouring area rely on these manufacturing plants to earn the daily bread, with the former dominating the latter in numbers.
The increase in price derives its cause from raw materials getting expensive in the current economy. “A total of 14 raw materials go into making matchsticks. The highest climb is seen in the prices of red phosphorus, i.e., from Rs 425 to Rs 810 per kg. Following this, wax is now Rs 80 as compared to the initial price of Rs 58. Similarly, inner and outer boxboard prices have increased from Rs 36 to Rs 50 and Rs 32 to Rs 58, respectively. In addition, increasing diesel prices have also burdened the cost of matchboxes,” VS Sethurathinam, secretary, National Small Matchbox Manufacturers’ Association, told The Times Of India.
The Matchbox industry is burning out like the matchsticks. According to a TOI report, the industry saw a massive 25 percent decline in 2015, which led to the closing of more than 8,000 manufacturing units till the time of the report. Indian, as of now, exports matchsticks worth Rs. 240 crore, which is also seeing a steady decline.