Silk Market: Europe Reasserts Itself as a Major Producer

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto12 octobre 2023

Promoting new technologies in eco-friendly silk production and investing in traditional workshops are the strategies currently enabling Europe to regain a prominent position in the global silk market.

Silk accounts for just 0.17% of the world's fabric fiber production but is of major importance in the world of luxury goods (Hermès textile holding - Flickr)

$ 15,6 Bn

Evaluation of the global silk market in 2021


Expected annual growth of the global silk yarn market between 2021-2026

$ 34 Bn

Global silk market forecast to 2030

Silk, the prestigious fabric of Chinese emperors and kings since 5000 BC, was once as precious as gold (Shutterstock)

To appreciate the preciousness of silk, some factual data sheds light on its value: producing one kilogram of silk requires nearly 2,500 silkworms, equivalent to one kilogram of cocoons. A silk thread is eight times finer - and more delicate - than a human hair. As such, silk ranks among the world's most costly fabrics in terms of production, captivating the desires of wealthy merchants worldwide since the dawn of time.

The prestige of this exceptional fabric first flourished in China around 5000 BC, swiftly becoming the favored textile of emperors and kings. Over time, particularly renowned silk production hubs emerged along the historic Silk Road, such as the Uzbek city of Margilan, which remains active today and once saw silk priced on par with gold. But what is the situation today?

China: The World's Leading Silk Producer

Europe, inspired by luxury leaders like Hermès, aims to strengthen its position in silk (Hermès)

Silk accounts for just 0.17% of the world's fiber production, but it holds significant importance in the luxury universe. While China undoubtedly retains its position as the world's top producer, with 146,000 tons of raw silk produced in 2021 (roughly 80% of global production), India follows at a considerable distance, with 28,708 tons in the same reference year. However, other players, particularly in Europe, are emerging. The global silk thread market is expected to achieve a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 5.5% during the forecast period (2021-2026), but significant disruptions have intensified in recent years.

To produce 1 kilo of silk, 2,500 worms are needed (Shutterstock)

The silk market in China faced destabilization during the COVID-19 pandemic due to several factors: fluctuating cocoon prices, the unavailability of skilled labor, transportation issues, and supply chain disruptions. Concurrently, rising mulberry cultivation costs led many Chinese farmers to abandon sericulture (silkworm farming), despite experimental efforts to control costs.

However, this slowdown in Chinese production hasn't been mirrored in India, where silk growth had already exceeded 10.2% in the two years preceding the pandemic. The Indian program known as Silk Samagra, designed by local producers to enhance the quality and productivity of national silk to reduce raw silk imports, has proven successful.

Europe Aims to Reclaim Its Market Share

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