The Indian dyestuffs industry has been playing a crucial role in determining not only the local textile market – rather the regional and international market as well. In post-pandemic, Indian dyestuffs industry has been able to dismiss some of the bottlenecks in the domestic, regional and in the global market. Thanks to the man – who is pioneering and leading the Indian dyestuffs industry – Janak Mehta, Chairman, Asia Dyestuffs Industry Federation (ADIF) was also the President of the Dyestuffs Manufacturers Association of India (DMAI) has had a colorful and charismatic career.
Janak Mehta has been serving as President for ADIF since 2018. The China based ADIF is an apex body and a conglomerate of dyestuff and pigment manufacturers of Asia. ADIF represents dyestuffs, pigments, optical brighteners and dyes intermediates manufacturers. The ADIF federation works toward the expansion of the Asian colorant industry by helping communication and exchange information among its members. And Janak Mehta has been successfully steering the apex body.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Textile Today Janak Mehta shared deep his insights on the dyestuffs industry, its challenges and other vital aspects.
Textile Today: Welcome to Bangladesh. Kindly brief us regarding the Indian dyestuffs industry.
Janak Mehta: It is my pleasure to be in Bangladesh. And my experience was quite amazing in the textile and apparel industry in the country. The textile entrepreneurs, people – everybody is welcoming and I heard a lot about Textile Today initiatives from them.
Let me proudly proclaim that the Indian dyestuffs industry – consisting of dyestuffs, pigments and intermediates – holds 17% of the textile chemical global share. And in the coming decade, we are setting up a strategic action plan with the govt. of India for a manifold growth. Our dyestuff manufacturers want the Indian govt. assistance in terms of ease of doing business. Which is not up to the mark as per our liking. If this happens, then the Indian dyestuff industry is poised for the next big growth in the coming decade.
Textile Today: Kindly share us the structure of the Indian dyestuff industry. Where are the bulk production units and customers located?
Janak Mehta: 95% of the manufacturing hub is in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad belt. As for the customers’ aspect – the reach is far and wide and diverse. As dyestuff industry term is a general one. Of course, the textile industry is our biggest source of customers. The dyestuff industry also caters to other industries like leather, plastic, inks, coatings, agriculture, food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, detergents, soaps, etc.
The biggest customer source textile industry buyers are mainly located in three major areas in India – they are Northern (Ludhiana and Chandigarh), Western (Ahmedabad and its surrounding areas, Gujrat, Surat, Maharashtra) and Southern India (Tirupur, Tamil Nadu). Also, there are some scattered hubs like Chennai; Kolkata, West Bengal; Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh and some are in Punjab.
In the global market, in the earliest days of the Indian dyestuffs industry, the USA and Western Europe was the biggest export market. Over time, the export destinations have transitioned into the actual textile manufacturing countries. Like the top 7-8 export destinations are the Asian textile-making countries.
Beside dyestuffs, we produce and export a big amount of intermediates.
Textile Today: Kindly share us the dyestuff sector’s raw material sourcing value chain. Are there any glitches and what are the challenges?
Janak Mehta: Yes, the last few years were challenging. You see, all the dyestuff raw material source initiates from Petro-chemicals – which are not available in India and we have to import 80% of our oil. Despite that, we have a strong dyestuff intermediates industry.
COVID-19 brought all kinds of new challenges. On top of it, the Ukraine-Russia war is making the scenario much tougher. The freight cost has increased drastically. At the same time, all the raw material prices have gone up. And somehow, the textile industry is not in a position to accept the higher prices. So, it is a very suffocating situation for the dyestuff sector. As we cannot increase prices despite the raw material price increase.
That is why we urge the Indian govt. assistance in terms of ease of doing business and removing all the hurdles. The introduction of GST has given us a wonderful boost. Still, there are works to be done. The complicated bureaucracy is one of the core hurdles in India. If the govt. simplifies it then surely the industry will grow more. Also, infrastructure development is the need of the hour to take it to the world-class level.
As for the industry level, we have set a target to push our limits. Because the global value chain is integrated – as the pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war showed us– that the price is not in one’s hand. That is why the dyestuff industry is stressing innovation and strong operation-driven solutions. Which will ultimately reduce the cost of production.
Thus, we are focusing on uplifting the knowledge base of our industry. With that in mind, in 2005 we founded the most prestigious university named the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) in Mumbai. Besides, we have also initiated an international convention called Convention on Colorants (COC) happening every two years. Where textile chemists (who have done extensive research) from anywhere in the world come here and present their research and innovation. We also invite textile chemical students in the COC to arm them with the awareness of the latest and future trends in the textile dyestuff industry.
Similarly, we put a massive emphasis on producing green chemicals. We are doing countless seminars and other programs to facilitate that.
And very soon, we will start a skill development program where participants will learn about chemical management from the compliance and safety perspective. We are waiting for the govt. nod as a govt. approved course gives holds greater value in terms of job aspect.
So, we are well prepared and these monumental decisions have significantly helped our industry.
Textile Today: The end users have been suffering from an overall increase in production cost since the pandemic. And dyestuff was one of the key elements that have been increasing steeply. How is the price situation fairing at present and in the future?
Janak Mehta: The price increase in the COVID times spiraled uncontrollably due to many key factors – like the availability of raw materials was an issue, and freight charges increased crazily. The impact was devastating for the industry – as a small portion of cost earlier suddenly became a major portion of the cost. Which was not in anybody’s hand.
And there was a time when it was not possible for the dyestuff industry to absorb all the rising costs and thus the prices have gone up.
At present, despite the unstable global scenario, I see some of the prices of the raw materials are stabilizing. Although availability still poses a big question mark as some raw materials are facing a shortage crisis. But the coming future is brighter for the textile chemical market.
Textile Today: As you have mentioned about the sustainability, safety and compliance aspects of the textile chemical industry. How do you see these aspects?
Janak Mehta: Globally it is an ongoing process in the textile chemical industry. For instance, what was allowed is no longer allowed in the chemical industry. Like I said, innovative products and R&D is taking the center stage in the dyestuff industry. The industry is now well aware of it and they are focusing on what needs to be done, what are the solutions available and most critically transforming the mindset that they need to invest in time and effort.
This has become the driving force of the industry and they are doing whatever it takes to overcome these crucial aspect shortcomings.
Textile Today: Just like the textile industry sustainability protocols – how the dyestuff industry is maintaining international protocols? And how do you position the Indian dyestuff industry in terms of environmental friendliness?
Janak Mehta: Dyestuff industry maintains all the required global protocols – GOTS, ECOTEX, ZDHC, REACH, etc. – as well as local protocols set by the Indian govt. The chemical manufacturing industry is following these protocols rigorously. As I said, it is a continuous process. With the increase in knowledge and availability of technology, we are advancing more towards sustainability.
In terms of environment-friendliness, the Indian dyestuff industry is very much in the right direction I would say. For our members, we always prescribe the best environment-friendly solutions. And our members are also responding accordingly.
Textile Today: How much significance does Bangladesh holds in the Indian dyestuff industry?
Janak Mehta: It is of unparalleled significance. Bangladesh itself is poised for exponential growth. The country will be a leading production hub soon. So, the market significance is huge. The hunger for growth is there in the people. At the same time, I have also witnessed a great level of entrepreneurship taking place among the people. Having said that, the country will certainly capture more textile and apparel-related market share with all the positivity.