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Nonwovens Sales Expected to Reach $5.8 Billion

November 21, 2007

Study predicts 4.5% growth until 2011.

Demand for nonwoven roll goods is projected to increase 4.5% per year to $5.8 billion in 2011, driven by healthy gains in key markets such as filtration, construction and wipes, according to a new study conducted by the Freedonia Group. Further growth will derive from increased market penetration in many applications, including industrial wipes and roofing membranes, as new technologies improve the functionality of nonwoven materials. However, gains will be limited by intense price competition in consumer markets, where some converted product manufacturers will seek to cut costs by reducing the amount of nonwoven material in their products.

Spunbonded nonwovens will remain the dominant product, accounting for roughly half of total volume in 2011, owing to its position as the material of choice in major markets such as baby diapers. Gains in spunbonded nonwovens will be driven by performance advantages, the development of new applications and increasing demand for composite nonwovens featuring spunbonded webs. Although carded and wetlaid nonwovens are expected to see the slowest gains, certain segments of these product types will have more favorable prospects.

Among disposables markets, consumer products will continue to account for the largest portion of nonwovens sales, though growth will be restricted by below average advances in baby diaper and feminine hygiene markets. Somewhat offsetting this sluggishness in the consumer market will be favorable gains in adult incontinence markets, primarily due to the aging U.S. population. Demand in the filtration market will see the most rapid gains, as nonwovens continue to take market share from other materials such as paper and woven fabrics.

Nondisposables, which comprised roughly one-third of nonwovens sales in 2006, will grow at a slower pace than disposables. However, the largest nondisposables market, construction, will post above-average gains, fueled by robust growth in nonresidential construction. Other smaller markets, such as agriculture, will also see excellent gains as new applications for nonwoven products continue to be developed. However, declines in clothing and weak prospects for furniture will limit overall growth in the nondisposables segment, as manufacturing of these products continues to move outside the U.S.