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Human’s first weapon: knives, a rising niche

A person cooking in their kitchen, a butcher slicing meat at the market, a fisher skinning a fish, a firefighter cutting a rope in a rescue mission, a family cutting firewood at their campsite, a florist making flower arrangements, a law enforcement official, the military – What do they all have in common? What are they all using? A knife. 

Before we start, I’ve got a visit today from the owner of Solar Panels Cleaning Newcastle. He reminds me of this saying by the way, “sometimes all you need is a positive attitude and a knife”. Thanks Charles for that.

What is a knife?

As simple as it might seem, no one ever stops to think what defines a knife. Being a tool of daily use, most people take it for granted, as if it was something that simply exists on earth. However, a knife is a sharp blade that has been attached to some handle for human use. It is human-made, and it has been around since prehistoric times.

Background

Thousands of years ago, the first knives were made of flint, a type of grey rock that used to be shaped into tools or weapons. It is curious to know as well that long before knives were used as kitchen utensils, they were and continue to be used mainly as weapons. Back in prehistoric times, the tip of a knife used to be made in a sharp-pointed manner to poke food and pick it up, as cutlery was not provided at the dinner table. Besides using knives as a weapon, they were used as cutlery approximately 500 years ago. Regardless of their purpose, they have always been a high demand item, creating an incredible niche.

Niche of knives

As one would assume that the most common use of knives nowadays is for kitchen purposes, it is surprising to find the knife-industry for kitchens is valued at just over 1.1 billion USD with an expansion of over eight percent prognosticated from the years of 2019 to 2025. On the other hand, the US Sporting Knife Industry is valued at almost 6 billion USD, with an estimate of hunters spending over 60 billion USD annually. This is a clear suggestion that the niche of knives lies in hunting or sports knife industry as opposed to kitchen dedicated knives. 

It is an interesting fact that the vast majority of activities that require the use of a knife, need as well one hand to be free for holding something (a rope, a plant, a fish, etc.) while the other hand holds the knife. This is the main reason why knives that can be handled with only one hand, such as multitool knives, pocketknives, and assisted opening knives, represent around 80 % of total knife sales in the USA. 

In addition, one of the main reasons why one-handed knives are so widely demanded in the market is that outdoor activities for society, in general, keep becoming more and more appealing. Young kids are sent to boy/girl scout camps where camping knives are necessary, families and individuals have been continuously choosing camping trips and rafting activities, amongst others. These outdoor activities that are spiraling up in demand create the niche for sports knives in North America. Aside from the recreational use on knives mentioned, law enforcement officials, military members, firefighters, and security guards also consider knives to be valuable tools to carry with them at all times. 

The economic impact of such a high demand for knives in the market is worth mentioning. For instance, since blades need to be assembled in such high quantities, companies are required to hire more team members to ensure they can keep up with the elevated production. The creation of these jobs improves the economy, creating revenues for both the manufacturer and the nation itself. 

In summary, knives have been used since prehistoric times as a tool for absolutely everything, from cooking to plant grooming, to saving lives in a life-threatening situation or rescue missions. Although kitchen knives are definitely a vibrant market, their niche is not as rich when compared to the sporting knife demand. 

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