Kultevat looks to fill gap in domestic NR source with TKS dandelion

August 08, 2022 05:01 PM

Over the years, the need for a domestic supply of natural rubber in the U.S. has become glaringly obvious. That’s why Kultevat has made it its mission to supply a domestic market with a premium product. But the need for a domestic source in the U.S. has come to the forefront since the pandemic’s resulting logistical nightmares and has been exacerbated by today’s environmental and geopolitical climate concerns.
Rubber is “indispensable,” said Dan Swiger, president and CEO of the St. Louis-based alternate rubber producer Kultevat.

“Rubber is in our daily use in needs,” he told Rubber News. “Just like petroleum is today, we can’t do without it because we’ve been raised on petroleum our whole lives.”

And just as ethanol finds itself in the petroleum space, he said, Kultevat finds itself in the NR space with Taraxacum kok-saghyz, or TKS—commonly known as the Russian dandelion.

The need for an alternative NR market has grown in urgency over the years, according to Swiger, who noted this is because of the setbacks companies face in acquiring raw materials due to supply chain bottlenecks, the threat of tree disease in Southeast Asia and a growing sense of environmental responsibility among manufacturers.

“With the pandemic, there has been a big recognition that it’s more important now than ever to have a domestic source of natural rubber,” he said.

“When you’re solely dependent on an import from one area of any one country, you understand that when something like the pandemic happens, all things come to a halt.”

Since hevea is mono-clonal, he said leaf blight is a serious threat to the global economy in the event it hits Southeast Asia, where more than 90 percent of natural rubber is sourced. And as companies move more toward being environmentally sustainable, Swiger noted that extracting natural rubber from TKS comes without the risk of deforestation.