Taihe (China) : Long, black and lucrative: sacks bulging with human hair spill onto the streets of a rural county whose farmers have helped make China the world’s biggest exporter of products made from the material, reports AFP.
As dawn broke over the morning market in Taihe, vendors bringing hairy wares from across China haggled with dozens of buyers, and tempers frayed. “We have to bargain for hair,” said buyer Liu Yanwen, 35, who sported a buzzcut and arrived at the market at 5.30 am in search of deals. “We have a factory where we’ll turn it into products for export overseas,” he added, clutching a head’s worth of straight, thick black locks. Gao Pu, a vendor whose head was also shaved, opened a knapsack containing dozens of bunches of hair onto the ground and declared: “It comes from the heads of ordinary Chinese folks.”
Prices can go as high as 5,400 yuan ($880) per kilogram for cuts of 20 inches. Taihe, in the eastern province of Anhui, is home to more than 400 companies processing human hair into an array of curly extensions, wigs and other products which end up on heads in the United States, Europe and Africa. Fu Quanguo, 64, pioneered the trade in the 1970s and now sports a crop of white hair. “We used to collect the human hair locally,” he said. “But now it comes from all kinds of countries, Myanmar, Vietnam, countries like that.
“In the past making hair products was tough, and we did it all by hand… Now we’ve gone from small to big and are selling internationally.” China exported nearly 75 per cent of the world’s “bird skin, feathers, artificial flowers, human hair” products, in 2012, according to the World Trade Organization’s International Trade Centre.