Saturday 6 April 2013

The State of the Nonwovens Industry

This the first of a series of summaries of papers presented at the INDA Vision Conference in Orlando, in January this year.

David Rousse, President of INDA reviewed the global nonwovens industry scene, reminding us that when a country’s Purchasing Power Parity rose above $1500 per capita per year, the disposable femcare market would begin to develop.  Above $3500/year, $8000/year and $10000/year, disposable diapers, wipes and incontinence products (respectively) would commence to be in demand.  $10000/year equated to an annual nonwoven consumption of about a kilo/capita and this consumption rose roughly linearly with PPP to reach about 5 kg/capita at the North American income of $50,000/capita. 
  • Globally 7.9 million tonnes of nonwovens were produced in 2012 and this was expected to reach 11.3 million by 2017, a CAGR of 7.6%
  • NAFTA was stuck in a low growth mode (~2%) but the dollar was stable and interest in environmental protection and sustainability was increasing.  NAFTA consumed 24.5% of global nonwovens.
  • The EU is a no-growth or declining area overall with a declining Euro and a high and increasing interest in the environment.  The EU consumed 25.5% of global nonwovens
  • Japan was declining, the population ageing, and incontinence products were now outselling disposable diapers.
  • China was growing, but less strongly, had an appreciating currency and was flirting with sustainability issues.  Population age was stable, but labour costs were increasing. China consumed 23% of global nonwovens.
  • India is where China was 25 years ago.  The rupee is down and the population is still growing. There’s no interest in sustainability and no infrastructure (outside the cities) to allow disposable use.
  • China and ROW were the growth regions.  China now operated a quarter of the world’s SMS machines.
  • Spunbond, needlepunch and spunlaced technologies were growing most (~8%/year to 2017 globally).
  • Wipes and Filtration markets were the growing most rapidly (17%/year to 2017) while nonwovens for Automotive (15%) and Construction (12%) were also doing well.
Mr Rousse suggested we pay particular attention to the following “gamechangers”:
  • China: the rising middle class is more numerous than the US population.  The government has technical textiles (which include nonwovens) as a priority for development.  While the hygiene market is growing less quickly, wipes and construction nonwovens are growing fast.
  • Hospital Acquired Infections:   superbug antibiotic resistance, lack of hygiene in operating theatres, the ageing population and the low use of disposables in the OR outside NA and Japan mean the HAI problem is growing.  Younger surgeons prefer disposables so good growth can be expected for medical nonwovens.
  • Sustainability: LCA’s will increasingly be mandated by governments and major retailers and bio-resins will progressively replace petro-polymers.  While most of the R&D goes on in the West, the bio-plants will be built in the developing world.  50% of capacity will be in Asia by 2016. Improving air-quality by tightening filtration standards, especially for diesel exhausts will drive growth in filtration.
  • Shale Gas:  NA shale gas is now 1/3rd the price of oil and there is an explosion of investment in making ethylene from it.  Polyethylene will become much cheaper than PP and more nonwoven producers will learn how to use it.

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