Bamboo is a strong and fast-growing material that’s been used for thousands of years because of its versatility and sustainability. The bamboo plant is a grass that grows almost a meter a day. After the first three years of growth, it is harvested annually without the need of replanting. Bamboo is a flexible resource that can grow under a range of climatic conditions while keeping the land nutrient and preventing soil erosion. Unlike other plants, bamboo is naturally antibacterial and has no need for pesticides or fertilizers. With more than 1,500 potential product uses, the miracle grass also represents a lucrative market opportunity.
Uses of Bamboo
Bamboo has been used for millenniums for many applications, although with the age of modern materials many people today don’t understand the scope of uses for bamboo. The shoots can be eaten, and the wood of older canes can be treated and used in various ways, including landscaping and housing structures. Many manufacturers have seen the products that can be made from this highly renewable resource, and have begun to utilize bamboo in some intriguing ways.
Bamboo flooring is a quality product used widely in the large consumer market. It has advantages over wooden floors due to its insulation quality, durability and brightness. The worldwide market for bamboo flooring is expected to grow at a compound annual gross rate of roughly 3.5% over the next five years, according to a Global Info Research study.
Currently, $519 million worth of edible bamboo shoots are imported annually to the U.S. to meet the local demand, as the majority of bamboo is grown in Asia.
The bamboo fiber market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5% by 2022, as reported by Gen Consulting Company. Bamboo’s superior quality makes the fiber softer and requires smaller amounts of dye for coloring. The fabric made from bamboo is twice as soft as cotton, and rivals the softness of luxury fabrics like silk and cashmere.
The consumer interest for cleaner sources of energy has increased the demand and market price of using bamboo as biomass. Bamboo gas can be used as a substitute for petroleum. In addition, bamboo charcoal is an excellent fuel for cooking. The charcoal can also be used as a deodorant, purifier, disinfectant, medicine, agricultural chemical and absorbent of pollution and excessive moisture.
U.S. Bamboo Growth
There are more than 1,400 bamboo species worldwide, but only two in particular are an ideal fit for U.S. farmland: moso, the premier variety for high value wood products, and rubromarginata (rubro), a biomass bamboo grown for biochar, biocomposites and a variety of other products. Moso is exclusive to the Southeast and USDA planting zones 7-8, and rubro is less finicky, with a growing window in USDA planting zones 6-10.
Bamboo Market Outlook
The rise in environmental awareness and the need for an alternative to preserve our depleting forest resources has attracted both impact investors and growers. The global bamboo market size was valued at $68.8 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 5% from 2019 to 2025. By 2025, the bamboo market size is expected to be worth $98.3 billion. Globally, the U.S. is the top importer of bamboo products, demonstrating the massive demand in waiting. Investment opportunities in bamboo are growing as more producers in the U.S. seek to grow the sustainable plant.