From Cargo Handbook - the world's largest cargo transport guidelines website
Infobox on Jute
Example of Jute
Origin -
Stowage factor (in m3/t)
  • 2,7 m3/t (jute bags)
  • 2,27 m2/t (jute cloth)
Humidity / moisture
  • Relative humidity: 65%
  • Water content: 12.5-13.7%
  • Maximum equilibrium moisture content: 65%
Ventilation See text
Risk factors See text



Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which was once classified with the family Tiliaceae, more recently with Malvaceae, and has now been reclassified as belonging to the family Sparrmanniaceae. "Jute" is name of the plant or fiber that is used to make burlap, Hessian or gunny cloth.

Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibres and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses of vegetable fibres (though it can be argued that Hemp is superior to both in versatility and range of uses. Jute fibres are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose (major component of plant fibre) and lignin (major components of wood fibre). It is thus a ligno-cellulosic fibre that is partially a textile fibre and partially wood. It falls into the bast fibre category (fibre collected from bast or skin of the plant) along with kenaf, industrial hemp, flax (linen), ramie, etc. The industrial term for jute fibre is raw jute. The fibres are off-white to brown, and 1–4 metres (3–12 feet) long.

Jute is a rain-fed crop with little need for fertilizer or pesticides, in contrast to cotton's heavy requirements. Production is concentrated in India and some in Bangladesh, mainly Bengal. The jute fibre comes from the stem and ribbon (outer skin) of the jute plant. The fibres are first extracted by retting. The retting process consists of bundling jute stems together and immersing them in slow running water. There are two types of retting: stem and ribbon. After the retting process, stripping begins; women and children usually do this job. In the stripping process, non-fibrous matter is scraped off, then the workers dig in and grab the fibres from within the jute stem. India, Pakistan, and China are the large buyers of local jute while the United Kingdom, Spain, Côte d'Ivoire, Germany and Brazil also import raw jute from Bangladesh. India is the world's largest jute growing country.


Jute is the second most important vegetable fibre after cotton. Jute is used chiefly to make cloth for wrapping bales of raw cotton, and to make sacks and coarse cloth. The fibres are also woven into curtains, chair coverings, carpets, area rugs, hessian cloth, and backing for linoleum.

While jute is being replaced by synthetic materials in many of these uses, some uses take advantage of jute's biodegradable nature, where synthetics would be unsuitable. Examples of such uses include containers for planting young trees, which can be planted directly with the container without disturbing the roots, and land restoration where jute cloth prevents erosion occurring while natural vegetation becomes established.

The fibres are used alone or blended with other types of fibre to make twine and rope. Jute butts, the coarse ends of the plants, are used to make inexpensive cloth. Conversely, very fine threads of jute can be separated out and made into imitation silk. As jute fibres are also being used to make pulp and paper, and with increasing concern over forest destruction for the wood pulp used to make most paper, the importance of jute for this purpose may increase. Jute has a long history of use in the sackings, carpets, wrapping fabrics (cotton bale), and construction fabric manufacturing industry.

Traditionally jute was used in traditional textile machineries as textile fibres having cellulose (vegetable fibre content) and lignin (wood fibre content). But, the major breakthrough came when the automobile, pulp and paper, and the furniture and bedding industries started to use jute and its allied fibres with their non-woven and composite technology to manufacture nonwovens, technical textiles, and composites. Therefore, jute has changed its textile fibre outlook and steadily heading towards its newer identity, i.e., wood fibre. As a textile fibre, jute has reached its peak from where there is no hope of progress, but as a wood fibre jute has many promising features.

Jute is used in the manufacture of a number of fabrics such as Hessian cloth, sacking, scrim, carpet backing cloth (CBC), and canvas. Hessian, lighter than sacking, is used for bags, wrappers, wall-coverings, upholstery, and home furnishings. Sacking, a fabric made of heavy jute fibres, has its use in the name. CBC made of jute comes in two types. Primary CBC provides a tufting surface, while secondary CBC is bonded onto the primary backing for an overlay. Jute packaging is used as an eco-friendly substitute.

Diversified jute products are becoming more and more valuable to the consumer today. Among these are espadrilles, soft sweaters and cardigans, floor coverings, home textiles, high performance technical textiles, Geotextiles, composites, and more.

Jute floor coverings consist of woven and tufted and piled carpets. Jute Mats and mattings with 5 / 6 mts width and of continuous length are easily being woven in Southern parts of India, in solid and fancy shades, and in different weaves like, Boucle, Panama, Herringbone, etc. Jute Mats & Rugs are made both through Powerloom & Handloom, in large volume from Kerala, India. The traditional Satranji mat is becoming very popular in home décor. Jute non-wovens and composites can be used for underlay, linoleum substrate, and more.

Jute has many advantages as a home textile, either replacing cotton or blending with it. It is a strong, durable, colour and light-fast fibre. Its UV protection, sound and heat insulation, low thermal conduction and anti-static properties make it a wise choice in home décor. Also, fabrics made of jute fibres are carbon-dioxide neutral and naturally decomposable. These properties are also why jute can be used in high performance technical textiles.

Moreover, jute can be grown in 4-6 months with a huge amount of cellulose being produced from the jute hurd (inner woody core or parenchyma of the jute stem) that can meet most of the wood needs of the world. Jute is the major crop among others that is able to protect deforestation by industrialisation.

Thus, jute is the most environment-friendly fibre starting from the seed to expired fibre, as the expired fibres can be recycled more than once.

Jute is also used to make ghillie suits, which are used as camouflage and resemble grasses or brush.

Another diversified jute product is Geotextiles, which made this agricultural commodity more popular in the agricultural sector. It is a lightly woven fabric made from natural fibres that is used for soil erosion control, seed protection, weed control, and many other agricultural and landscaping uses. The Geotextiles can be used more than a year and the bio-degradable jute Geotextile left to rot on the ground keeps the ground cool and is able to make the land more fertile. Methods such as this could be used to transfer the fertility of the Ganges Delta to the deserts of Sahara or Australia.

Shipment / Storage

Jute is the fiber of a plant used in the manufacture of hessian (burlap), gunnies, carpets and cordage. Shipped in pressed bales. Jute is a highly combustible material and fire is almost always due to human agency, whether accident or arson. Sparks due to friction can produce fire, and it is alleged that fires in transit can be produced intentionally by contaminating the jute at baling with various substances, but spontaneous combustion of pure jute does not occur.

Jute fiber loses strength if exposed to the action of water for a prolonged period, particularly in a confined space. When jute as fiber or cloth is baled wet heating occurs and fiber degradation causes ‘heart’ damage to the bales. In some cases the damage will be so high that the fiber is reduced to a powder. Bales damaged by soiling with earth will normally be discoloured in places with typical mildew stains. On opening the bales, it may be found that there is considerably more damage within, the jute being friable and dry.

When bales swell due to the absorption of moisture, the bale ropes may burst to the pressure. Even bales which are ‘dry’ on the outside may have had sufficient moisture within the bale to cause considerable damage.

‘Heart’ damage is a matter between buyer and seller and is normally dealt with by trade arbitration. While there is no commercially agreed maximum moisture content for raw jute shipment, the British Standard and certain Indian Standards for fabric dictate the maximum of 17% moisture regain (moisture expressed as a percentage of the bone dry weight). The moisture content required to produce ‘heart’ damage in bales is probably never as low as 17% and probably nearer to 25-30%, but will depend to some extent on the climatic and packing conditions to which the bales are subjected. Where it is desired to establish the moisture content of jute from bales, it is essential that the material be well sampled from different parts of the bales, the samples being immediately placed in airtight containers and the moisture regain established by bone-drying in an oven at about 105°C. Where the jute is in the form of a fabric, it is necessary first to extract the oil with a suitable solvent, such as petroleum ether, the moisture regain then being expressed as a percentage of the bone-dry weight plus oil. The standard regain of jute in the United Kingdom is taken to be that which is in equilibrium with an atmosphere of 230°C, 65% R.H. and is approximately 14%.

Jute fibers are graded by tensile strength, length, uniformity, colour and luster.

Good grades of jute should be light yellowish to reddish and lustrous. Lower value grades are brownish to greenish in colour.

A musty odour is a sign of mould and rot in jute.

If the product is loaded for shipment in a dry state, it does not have any particular ventilation requirements. Problems arise if the product is too damp. In this case an air exchange rate of 10 changes/hour (airing) should be applied.

Risk factors

  • Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion
  • Odor
  • Contamination
  • Mechanical influences

Consult the IMDG Code International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code) and applicable MSDS sheet for overseas transport.