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Matchbox Price: ‘14 raw materials in a matchbox, cost of all is up… then the Rs 1.5 cr machine. Covid left huge debts’

From December 1, the price of a matchbox will be Rs 2, from Re 1 — the first time in 14 years that the price of the matchbox has been hiked.

Written by Janardhan Koushik |
Updated: October 31, 2021 5:36:08 am
There are about 14 raw materials that are needed to manufacture a matchbox and the prices of all of those have gone up.

From December 1, the price of a matchbox will be Rs 2, from Re 1 — the first time in 14 years that the price of the matchbox has been hiked.

V S Sethurathinam, 72, Secy, National Small Matchbox Manufacturers association talks about the rising matchbox price.

Why were you seeking a hike in prices?

There are about 14 raw materials that are needed to manufacture a matchbox and the prices of all of those have gone up. A kilo of cardboard, which cost Rs 42 earlier, now comes for Rs 56; wax prices are up from Rs 62 to Rs 80; splints from Rs 42 to Rs 48; potassium chlorate from Rs 60 to Rs 85; red phosphorous from Rs 410 to Rs 825. Then, there are electricity charges and wages.

Does the government have a say in the price rise?

No, the government does not interfere in this. Five major matchbox manufacturers’ bodies, including ours, decide the price. Earlier we used to have 50 sticks in a box, but that was reduced to 25-30 and we sold it for Re 1. Now, we will once again put 50 sticks in a matchbox and will sell it at Rs 2.

How many matchbox manufacturing units operate in Tamil Nadu?

There are about 300 semi-mechanised units and 50 fully mechanised ones that manufacture about 100 crore matchboxes a month. About five lakh labourers are involved, with 90% of them women.

How did the industry survive the pandemic?

We had to keep the units running or else the workers would have moved to other companies. Matchbox is an essential commodity —like rice, sugar, etc. We operated even during the pandemic. The machine that is used to manufacture these matches costs around Rs 1.5 crore, we can’t let that stay idle. Due to the Covid curbs, we ran into huge debts.

Have lighters impacted the sale of matchboxes?

Lighters are available in large numbers only in metro cities, you don’t find them in rural areas. It does not affect our sales. In villages, people prefer a matchbox to a lighter, any day.

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