In the current Export and Import Policy or the 1st April’92 to 31st March,97 Shellac and all form of lac-excepting Pesswa and any Lac containing living insects, Sticklac and Broadlac have been included in the list of items which may be exported without a license but subject to terms and conditions specified in the Handbook of Procedures.

Naturally, in line with the stipulations laid down in the Policy, an exporters has to approach separately with specific documents to the Council for obtaining necessary Certificates and finally to the Customs Authority for ultimate clearance to effect shipment of the cargo. Each exporter has to strictly follow the new “Standardised Pre-shipment Export Documentation System” introduced by the Government of India since 1st of October, 1991 which contents various prescribed formats like Shipping bill, Invoice, Registration Certificate and Certificate of Inspection/In-process Control  etc.


There are various exportable Grades of Lac and Lac-based products like Shellac. Bleached Lac. Dewaxed Bleached Lac, Dewaxed/Decolourised Shellac, Aleuritic Acid, Shellac Wax, Gasket Shellac etc.

An exporter has to strictly observe the following documentation procedures while submitting documents to the Council :

Documents to be submitted to Shellac Export Promotion Council :

  • A guarantee in the prescribed proforma (copy attached) which has to be furnished on individual letterhead along with at least 200 gms. Of the sample of Lac to be shipped.
  • Certificate of Inspection/In-process Quality Control in four copies with typed and duly filled in. Blank forms of the ‘Certificate of Inspection/In-process Quality Control’ are being provided by this Council on request.
  • Cheque/Draft drawn in favour of Shellac & Forest Products Export Promotion Council towards charges of the Council, calculated at the rate of 0.25% of the F.O.B. value on exports in rupees has to be mentioned on the Certificate of Inspection/In-process Quality Control.
  • Registration Fee @ 0.25% on F.O.B. value of exports, drawn in Cheques/Drafts in favour of Shellac & FOrest Products Export Promotion Council is to be paid at the time of submission of aforesaid documents to the Council

Please indicate destination of Shipment.

It may please be noted that, while submitting documents to the Council, one copy of the Certificate of Inspection/In-process Quality Control will be retained by this Council. Exporters are also advised o check up the F.O.B. value with the Council to avoid any discrepancy.

While this Council undertakes the responsibility of sealing of export cargoes of individual exporters in Calcutta on the basis of prior intimation i.e. at least one day in advance from the exporters concerned. It has no such arrangement to extend such facility outside Calcutta. In those cases, the exporters individual  are to take care to ship the right and standardized material.

After necessary documentation process is over with Shellac FPEPC, the exporter may finally approach the Customs Authority for clearance of the documents for shipment.



Shellac & Forest Products Export Promotion Council
14/1B Ezra Street, Calcutta – 700 001

We hereby forwarded a sample out of a lot ……………………….. Bags/ Cases Weighing ………………….. kg/lb each bag/case of …………………….. (Name of the Commercial grade) intended to be shipped to …………………. (destination). The FOB value of exports is Rs. ……………… We hereby declare that this sample has been drawn from the actual goods packed ready for shipment in our godown and waiting dispatch to the Dock on ……………….. .

We further declare that the goods to be finally shipped shall be at per with the quality of this sample adjudged. By the Council’s Examiners differ materially from the quality declared by us, we shall be liable to such Disciplinary Action as may be decided by the Council.

We would request you to issue a Certificate of Inspection / In-process Quality Control based on a Examination of the aforesaid sample.

Yours faithfully

(Seal & Signature)

Lac is the hardened resin, secreted by the tiny lac insect belonging to a bug family. The widely known Indian lac insect is Kerria lac Kerr (Tachardiidae: Homoptera) although the lac insect of Thailand is Kerria chinensis. Lac insects settle closely on the twigs of certain host trees, suck the plant sap and grow, all the while secreting lac resin from their bodies. Since the insects are closely spaced on the twigs, the resin forms continuous encrustations over the twigs of the host trees. These insects thrive only on certain trees, which are called host trees. In India, the major hosts trees are Scheleichera oleosa, Butea monosperma and Zizyphus mauritiana, while the major lac host of Thailand is Samanea saman.


Lac cultivation is done by putting sticks of lac encrustations (broodlac) which contain mature female (gravid) insects, which are about to give birth to young larvae, on suitably prepared specific host plants. After emergence from the mother cells, the young larvae settle on the fresh twigs of the host plants, suck the plant sap and grow to form encrustations. The twigs containing these encrustations are harvested after they are fully grown to extract the lac resin.

Lac cultivation is simple, does not need any large investment and requires only part-time attention. Sustained production and steady returns can be achieved by adopting improved methods of cultivation. Thus, lac cultivation can be an extremely attractive avocation.


Lac encrustations are removed from the twigs of host plants by scraping. The raw lac thus obtained is known as scraped lac or simply sticklac. Sticklac is crushed into small grains, seived, washed with mild alkaline water and dried. This semi-refined product, called seedlac, is further refined by a system of hot melting, filtration and stretching into thin sheets which are subsequently broken into brittle flakes called shellac. Alternatively the purified lac resin can be in the form of circular discs called button lac. If a solvent process is used to purify the raw lac, dewaxed, decolourised lac can be obtained as the end product. The normally amber coloured resin can also be bleached with sodium hypochlorite to obtain bleached lac, which is white in colour. Bleached lac has specialised demand for coating medicinal tablets, confectioneries etc.

India is the principal lac producing country of the world, producing approximately 18,000 metric tonnes of unrefined (raw ) lac annually. About 85% of the country’s production is exported to various countries. The USA, Germany and Egypt are some of the major lac importing countries of the world.

Export of lac from India is mainly in the form of :

  • Shellac / button lac
  • Seedlac
  • Dewaxed lac
  • Bleached lac
  • Aleuritic acid


Lac has been found to be composed of the following constituents:

Lac Resin (a polyester complex of straight-chain hydroxy fatty acids and sesquiterpenic acids) 68 %
Lac Wax (a mixture of higher alcohols, acids and their esters) 6 %
Lac Dye (a mixture of anthroquinoid derivatives) 1-2 %
Others (insect debris, impurities etc.) 25 %


The various applications of lac can be summarised as follows:


  • Food processing industry
  • Cosmetics and toiletries industry
  • Varnish and printing industry
  • Coating of fruits and vegetables
  • Electrical industry
  • Leather industry
  • Adhesive industry
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Perfumery industry
  • Miscellaneous applications


  • Food and beverages industry
  • Textile industry


  • Polishes (shoe, floor, car polishes etc.)
  • Food, confectionery and tablet finishing
  • Lipsticks
  • Crayons etc.


Lac is generally processed either by hand (country process) or by suitable machines. Accordingly, the following grades of hand-made seedlac are commonly available in the market: (1)Ordinary/genuine bysakhi (2) Fine bysakhi (3) Golden bysakhi (4) Golden kusmi (5) Golden bysakhi – bold grain (6) Golden kusmi – bold grain (7) Golden kusmi seedlac – medium and (8) Manbhum fine seedlac (Note: In the lac trade, baisakhi crop is commonly referred to as bysacki or bysakhi)

The following grades of hand made shellac are also available in the market: (a) Lemon one (b) Lemon two (c) Standard one (d) Superior lemon (e) Superior kusmi lemon (f) Kusmi buttonlac (g) Superior kusmi buttonlac (h) Light pure buttonlac and (i) Pure one buttonlac

The following grades of machine made shellac are commercially available in the lac trade: (a) TN shellac (b) Orange shellac (c) Lemon One shellac (d) Lemon Two shellac (e) Standard One shellac (f) Black TN shellac (g) Kusmi Lemon shellac (h) Orange Fine Shellac (i) TN Pure Orange shellac and (h) Cobra shellac – Dark TN

The solvent process of lac manufacture yields the following grades: (a) Platina (b) Super Blonde (c) Blonde (d) Super Blonde (e) Dewaxed Lemon (f) Dewaxed Orange and (g) Dewaxed Garnet. Actually, the above nomenclature is based on the colour of the lac product. For instance, the colour index of Platina is about 0.6 and for Garnet is 35. Colour indices of the other varieties fall in-between the above two extremes.


For a list of lac manufacturers/suppliers of lac products in India, click here. One can also use the various search engines for searching the internet and get more information on lac /lac products and their suppliers. For searching the internet, click here


Lac has been in use in India since the Vedic period. The Atharvaveda contains a complete chapter on lac, with detailed descriptions of lac insects and the medicinal uses of the resin. The great Indian epic Mahabharata gives an account of the Lakha Griha, an inflammable house of lac, cunningly constructed by the Kauravas for the purpose of vanquishing their enemy. Since ancient times, lac has been used for some purpose or the other. Lac yields, besides resin, other useful products such as lac dye and lac wax. But their applications have been changing with time. Lac resin, dye etc. still finds extensive use in Ayurveda and Siddha systems of medicine

With increasing universal environment awareness, the importance of lac has assumed special relevance in the present age, being an eco-friendly , biodegradable and self-sustaining natural material. Since lac insects are cultured on host trees which are growing primarily in wasteland areas, promotion of lac and its culture can help in eco-system development as well as reasonably high economic returns.


The edible, bio-degradable, self-sustainable, odourless and flavourless properties of lac have made this material ideal for food processing and packaging applications. On 26th July 1989, the United States Food & Drugs Administration published a proposed rule, for affirming that shellac and shellac wax, were generally recognised as safe (GRAS), with specific limitations for use as a direct human food additive. The shellac, would have to be, of appropriate food grade.Substances approved for addition to foods by the US FDA are listed in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR). Shellac is regulated as an Indirect Food Additive in 21 CFR §175.105 (Adhesives) and §175.300 (Resinous & Polymeric Coatings). Indirect additives are substances used in food and include Adhesives and components of coatings (Part 175), Paper and paperboard components used in contact with aqueous and fatty foods (Part 176), Polymers (Part 177) and Adjuvants and Production Aids (Part 178). Shellac is also listed as a Diluent in Colour Additive Mixtures for Marking Food Supplements in tablet form, gum and confectionery under 21 CFR §73.1(b)(1)(i). It is also discussed in 21 CFR §101.4(b)(22), in terms of declaring the ingredient as a food label. As per FDA regulations, if fruits and vegetables are coated as above, the information has to appear on the labels of individual products, packing cartons etc. The information will clearly state that the product is either:

  • Coated with food-grade animal-based wax to maintain freshness, or
  • Coated with food grade vegetable / petroleum / beeswax / and / or shellac- based wax or resin to maintain freshness.

If any one of these types of waxes is applied, the label can simply identify the type, such as “vegetable-based”. The FDA also allows the statement “No wax or coating” on fresh produce that does not contain wax. As per FDA regulations, the term “lac resin” may be substituted for the term “shellac”. The reviewers of the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) of the US Govt. also reviewed shellac in September 1999 and concluded that it could be allowed in products labeled “made with organic ingredients”.

Similarly, the FDA classifies all colour additives in food as Certifiable or Exempt from Certification. Certifiable colour additives are man-made; colour additives exempt from certification include pigments from natural sources, such as vegetable dyes, and even man-made natural derivatives of natural colours. Lac dye (Merck Index 5342) has been identified as the red dye found in lac. The related colour is cochineal extract, the lake of which is carmine. Cochineal extract and carmine are regulated as colour additives exempt from certification in 21 CFR §73.100. Within this code, the identity, specifications, uses and restrictions, labeling requirements and exemption from certification are listed.

Food Additives in the European Union are categorised under 3 Directives viz. Sweeteners, Colours and Food Additives other than Colours and Sweeteners. Details of EU law can be obtained in the homepage of the European Commission. Details of Miscellaneous Food Additives of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are also available. The UK Food Standards Agency also publishes a listing of E numbers, Shellac is classified as E 904, whereas cochineal, carminic acid and the carmines are listed as E120. Ponceau 4R and Cochineal Red A are listed as E 124. As in the case of US FDA, no separate listing is available for lac dye. The above numbering system has been adapted for international use by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, who are developing an International Numbering System (INS), which uses the same numbers but without the E prefix.

The code no of shellac under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council is 904 /E904@ (“@” denoting that the product is of animal origin), as a food additive used as a glazing agent, in chocolates, confectionery, fizzy drinks, medications etc. No separate coding is available for lac dye. Cochineal and carminic acid (carmines) are listed as 120 / E122@ as food colours. Approved food additives in Australia / New Zealand are coded in a similar way to the food additives permitted by the EU, but they are not always the same (see above).

The Food Additive Hygiene Standards of China approves shellac (code no. 14.001) for use as a coating agent in the manufacture of chocolates and waffles with a maximum dosage of 0.20g / kg body weight. It also approves the use of lac dye (code no. 08.104) as a colouring agent in fruit/vegetable drinks, carbonated drinks, blended wines, candies, fruit jams, condiments and sauces, with a maximum permissible dosage of 0.5g/kg body weight.