World Demand for Nonwovens to Rise Through 2015

A new report from, "World Nonwovens Industry," forecasts that global sales of nonwoven fabrics are forecast to increase 6.9 percent annually through 2015 to 9.2 million metric tons. This rate is an acceleration from the 2005-2010 period, reflecting a low base as global recessionary conditions restrained nonwovens fabric demand in 2008 and 2009 before improving somewhat in 2010. The medical market for these fabrics is helping to drive this demand.

Continued growth in global manufacturing and construction activity, as well as gains in personal income will promote demand. Product sales will grow faster in area terms, rising 7.3 percent per year to 198 billion square meters, reflecting a modest decrease in average nonwovens weight. This will be due primarily to increased demand in developing areas for a variety of lighter-weight disposable nonwoven products, supported by manufacturers' efforts to make them more affordable and technological advances that are making new generations of nonwoven fabrics lighter. In value terms, sales of nonwovens will expand slower because of a decline in average prices.

According to the report, market gains in developing parts of Asia/ Pacific, Eastern Europe, Africa/Mideast and Latin America will outpace demand in the U.S., 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 just over half of additional global volume demand through 2015. Advances are also expected to be healthy in lower-volume markets such as India and Brazil.

Spunmelt nonwoven fabrics, which passed carded fabrics to account for the single largest share of total demand in 2010, will also post above-average gains through 2015, driven by growth in the use of disposable medical garments and textiles, rising consumption of composite spunbonded/meltblown nonwoven fabrics that combine the performance advantages of each, and greater penetration of markets now served by competitive products. However, demand for airlaid nonwovens is projected to achieve the most rapid growth through the forecast period. Airlaid products are generally less expensive than competitive materials, and suppliers will benefit from increased use in a variety of disposable products.

The personal hygiene market -- which includes adult incontinence products, feminine hygiene products, and infant diapers and training pants -- will continue to account for the single largest share of nonwovens demand in 2015. Use of these goods will expand the fastest in developing areas, fueled by growth in the number of women working outside the home and higher standards of living. The construction and filtration product markets for nonwoven fabrics will record the most rapid gains through 2015, promoted by accelerating construction expenditures and an increase in manufacturing activity. The medical/surgical product market for nonwoven fabrics (excluding medical wipes) will also record above-average advances, spurred by an aging world population, continued growth in healthcare spending, and improved infection prevention safeguards.