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Nonwovens Study Published

April 6, 2009

Growth forecast to climb 6.9% per year.

Global demand for nonwoven fabrics is forecast to climb 6.9% annually
through 2012 to eight million metric tons. Product sales will grow somewhat faster in area terms reflecting a modest decrease in average nonwovens weight. The medical/surgical product market for nonwoven fabrics will record the most rapid advances. 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 2012. These and other trends are presented in World Nonwovens, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Market gains in developing parts of Asia/Pacific, Eastern Europe, Africa/Mideast and Latin America will outpace demand 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 38% of all additional demand through 2012 and will surpass the U.S. to become the largest nonwoven fabric market in the world. Advances are also expected to be healthy in lower-volume markets such as India, Turkey, Russia and Brazil.

Sales of roll goods in developed parts of the world will expand as well. Nonwovens demand will be stimulated by improved economic climates and higher per capita income, resulting in increased manufacturing output and consumer spending, which will boost product sales through 2012. However, new housing starts are expected to remain well below earlier peaks in the US and Japan, and the same will be true for motor vehicle output in most developed nations, limiting associated nonwoven fabric demand.

Spunmelt nonwoven fabrics, which accounted for the single largest share of total demand in 2007, will also post the strongest gains through 2012, 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. Demand for airlaid nonwovens will also expand at an above-average pace. 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 and tablecloths, sanitary pads and wipes.

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