Global Sales of Nonwovens Forecast to Rise Annually thru 2015

Feb. 23, 2012 - Global sales of nonwoven fabrics are forecast to increase 6.9 percent annually to 9.3 million metric tons in 2015. This rate is a slight acceleration from the 2005-2010 period, but changes in demand growth vary widely on a regional basis, says a recent study by The Freedonia Group.

For the most part, developed areas are accelerating from the pace set between 2005 through 2010, reflecting a low base as global recessionary conditions restrained nonwoven fabric demand in 2008 and 2009 before improving somewhat in 2010. Growth rates in developing regions will remain higher than those projected for developed areas, primarily due to continued industrialization efforts and increasing personal income, according to the 441-page study, World Nonwovens.

Markets in Developing Areas to Outpace Demand in Developed Countries

Market gains in developing parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, the Africa/Mideast region, and Central and South America will outpace gains in the US, Western Europe and Japan. Product sales in developing areas will be fueled by above-average economic growth, ongoing industrialization efforts and rising living standards. China alone will account for almost half of additional global volume demand through 2015.

Lower-volume markets such as India and Brazil are also expected to achieve growth above the global average.

Sales of roll goods in developed parts of the world will expand as well. For instance, nonwovens demand in Western Europe will be stimulated by an improved economic climate and higher per capita incomes. However, population levels will be flat or edge down in some European countries, preventing sales of nonwovens used in consumer products from climbing at a faster rate.

Spunmelt and Airlaid Nonwovens to Lead Gains

Spunmelt nonwoven fabrics, which passed carded fabrics to account for the largest share of total demand in 2010 with 44 percent, will post above-average gains through 2015. Growth will be driven by the greater use of disposable medical items, rising consumption of composite spunbonded/meltblown nonwoven fabrics that combine the performance advantages of each, and greater penetration of markets served by competitive products.

Carded fabrics were the second largest segment in 2010 with 42 percent.

Demand for airlaid nonwovens is projected to achieve the fastest growth through the forecast period, but from a much smaller base. Airlaid products are generally less expensive than competitive materials, and suppliers will benefit from increased use in absorbent food pads, adult incontinence products, filters, hospital bed pads, napkins, sanitary pads and wipes.

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SOURCE: The Freedonia Group