Sunday 6 January 2013

Disposable diaper design update

Carlos Richer, Principal/CEO, Richer Investments (Mexico) compared diaper machines by region and said output had reached 850 diapers/min/machine in the mature markets, 500 d/m/m in China and other developing markets and 300 d/m/m in Africa, India and other underdeveloped markets.  SAP usage was ~760,000 tonnes (used in 60bn diapers) in mature markets, 560,000 tonnes (used in 62bn diapers) in emerging markets and ~45,000 tonnes (used in 5.6bn diapers) in underdeveloped markets.  Developing markets clearly use more pulp (~1m tonnes) than emerging markets (~0.5 million tonnes).  Other trends gleaned from the blizzard of facts which emerged:
  •          Once the uneconomic diaper producers (lines making less than 200 diapers/minute) die off the USA will have 102 lines.
  •          More adult incontinence products are using perforated film topsheets.
  •          Trends in diaper design from “full chassis” to “I-shaped” and “KC Hybrid” will reduce the amount of nonwoven used per diaper in the emerging markets.  Full chassis with breathable sides will be an intermediate design. 
  •          KC designs vary by region. P&G is consistent around the world.
  •          KC Slip-on, a hybrid between diaper and pant, uses extruded elastomerics rather than Lycra.  It has improved capacity and retention, customer approval feedback giving 72% Excellent, 13% Neutral and 15% Negative ratings, the latter being for skin marks from the elastic.  It has had a static 3% share for the last 6 months so maybe not a success.
  •          The top 10 diapers use spunbond core wrap.  All inco diapers use tissue so there’s a big opportunity for spunbond in inco-corewrap.
  •          Nonwoven use in inco is 5x that of diapers on a per diaper basis so here’s another big opportunity for spunbond.
  •          Acquisition layer weight varies from 130 gsm on Huggies down to 40 gsm on Pampers Baby Dry.
  •          100% SAP cores are no longer the coming thing in mature markets.  They looked good when pulp was expensive but with SAP prices rising they won’t be economic.  Furthermore mothers are concerned about the risk of rash from the “chemicals”.
  •          Bio-SAP would make sense only in Brazil at present.  It’s too expensive elsewhere.
  •          SAP use will rise in the developing markets but only to about 40% of the core.
  •          Thinner products are needed and are harder to make.  Maybe pre-formed thin cores will allow the smaller producers to enter the sector.
  •          Super-soft topsheets are available in non-bico form in Asia.  Probably polyethylene fibres.  The main problem of polymer change is its effect on diaper conversion efficiency.  Price of the resin is not a big issue.
  •          Cloth diapers are increasing share from a tiny base for the wrong reasons.  Disposables are clearly better for baby, but it’s easier to potty-train from cloth diapers because the babies are keen to get out  adult incontinence products are using a perforated film topsheet.

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