By 2017, 13bn units of AI products would be sold in NA, and this represented a growth rate of 3.5%, compared with 1.5% for diapers and 2.1% for femcare. In tonnage terms the AI nonwoven use would be 103,500 tonnes compared with 52,000 of femcare and 261,000 tonnes for diapers.
The main growth driver is the increasing availability of well designed disposable light incontinence garments which are much thinner (i.e. use composite cores) and more like normal underwear. They are stretchable, breathable and can incorporate odour control and wetness indicators for institutional use.
With 16% of the NA population expected to be over 65 by 2020, and the government encouraging home-care of the elderly, the home-care use of AI products is accelerating. State agencies and retail organisations are therefore developing performance standards for AI.
Asked about the low growth of diaper sales, Dr Holmes thought the recession could be to blame. What proportion of over 65’s has an incontinence problem? About 1/3rd, but the proportion rises to about 70% for the over 80’s. Incontinence in middle aged men due to prostate problems and in middle aged women after childbirth is also on the increase. There is as yet no surgical cure for the problem.