Raw human hair has significant commercial value. In some countries, criminals have made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem.
Natural human hair is also a coveted commodity in international trade, processed by businesses into hair extensions and wigs.
Globally, international sales of exported human hair (excluding hair extensions and wigs) totaled US$75.1 million in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -27.8% decline from $104 million in exports during 2014 and a -10.5% drop from 2017 to 2018.
Among continents, Asia sold the highest dollar worth of exported human hair during 2018 with shipments valued at $67.3 million or 89.6% of the global total. In second place were exporters in Europe at 6.7%. Even smaller percentages came from North America (2%), Africa (0.9%), Latin America specifically Brazil and Anguilla (0.02%), with just $2,000 sourced from Australia (0.003%) in Oceania.
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix is 0501 for human hair. The formal prefix code label for 0501 is unworked human hair whether or not washed or scoured and the waste of human hair.
Top Human Hair Exporters by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of human hair during 2018.
- India: US$35.1 million (46.7% of total human hair exports)
- Hong Kong: $17.9 million (23.8%)
- Myanmar (Burma): $8.9 million (11.8%)
- United Kingdom: $3 million (3.9%)
- Italy: $1.8 million (2.4%)
- Pakistan: $1.5 million (2%)
- United States: $1.4 million (1.8%)
- Singapore: $1.1 million (1.4%)
- Indonesia: $759,000 (1%)
- Uzbekistan: $730,000 (1%)
- Brazil: $540,000 (0.7%)
- Thailand: $475,000 (0.6%)
- Tanzania: $377,000 (0.5%)
- Japan: $269,000 (0.4%)
- South Africa: $200,000 (0.3%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 98.4% of all human hair exported in 2018.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing human hair exporters since 2014 were: Tanzania (up 5,286%), Japan (up 2,590%), United Kingdom (up 1,119%) and Singapore (up 411.5%).
Four countries posted declines in their exported human hair sales namely: South Africa (down -81.9%), United States (down -47.9%), India (down -47.9%) and Pakistan (down -3.5%).
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for human hair during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s exported human hair and its import purchases for that same commodity.
- India: US$34.4 million (net export surplus down -38.4% since 2014)
- Hong Kong: $8.5 million (up 83.9%)
- United Kingdom: $1.9 million (reversing a -$428,000 deficit)
- Pakistan: $1.5 million (down -3.5%)
- Uzbekistan: $730,000 (up 15.5%)
- United States: $477,000 (down -49.5%)
- Thailand: $475,000 (reversing a -$153,000 deficit)
- Tanzania: $372,000 (reversing a -$17,000 deficit)
- Singapore: $279,000 (up 136.4%)
- South Africa: $169,000 (down -84.3%)
- Tajikistan: $154,000 (up 214.3%)
- Japan: $152,000 (reversing a -$17,000 deficit)
- Canada: $96,000 (reversing a -$56,000 deficit)
- Nepal: $65,000 (down -60.8%)
- Belarus: $45,000 (down -31.8%)
India earned the highest surplus in the international trade of human hair. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms India’s strong competitive advantage for this specific product category.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for human hair during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s imported human hair purchases and its exports for that same commodity.
- Indonesia: -US$30.8 million (net export deficit up 14.9% since 2014)
- Austria: -$15.7 million (up 30.1%)
- Italy: -$7.7 million (down -53.3%)
- Myanmar (Burma): -$6.7 million (down -298.4%)
- Sweden: -$3.1 million (up 311,400%)
- Israel: -$1.3 million (up 329.5%)
- Vietnam: -$1.1 million (no 2014 data)
- Tunisia: -$736,000 (down -112.0%)
- Germany: -$537,000 (down -62.8%)
- Laos: -$475,000 (up 249.3%)
- Democratic Republic of Congo: -$415,000 (up 2,667%)
- South Korea: -$221,000 (up 250.8%)
- Slovakia: -$201,000 (up 68.9%)
- Namibia: -$194,000 (up 17.6%)
- Netherlands: -$162,000 (down -65.2%)
Indonesia incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of human hair. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights Indonesia’s competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for human hair-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful consumer demand.
Human Hair Exporting Companies
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following suppliers are examples of human hair exporters. The home-country location for each business is shown within parentheses:
- B & K Import & Export (United States)
- Business-Salon Group Ltd (Ukraine)
- Evergreen Products Factory Ltd (Hong Kong)
- GRV Exports (India)
- Rawhair Import Export Company (Vietnam)
- UNICS Co, Ltd (Japan)
- Waheed Universal Hair Company (Pakistan)
- Widya International (Indonesia)
See also Top Exporters of Wigs, Beards and Eyelashes, Beauty Cosmetics and Skincare Exports by Country and Perfumes Exporters by Country
Alibaba, Supplier showroom for human hair. Accessed on June 13, 2018
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 4, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 4, 2019
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 4, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 7, 2019
Wikipedia, Hair theft. Accessed on June 13, 2018