Global sales of nonwoven fabrics are forecast to increase 6.9% annually to 9.3 million metric tons in 2015, according to a recent study from The Freedonia Group.Growth rates in developing regions will remain higher than those projected for developed areas, primarily due to continued industrialization efforts and increasing personal income. 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.
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 nonwoven fabrics, which passed carded fabrics to account for the largest share of total demand in 2010 with 44%, 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%.Demand for airlaid nonwovens is projected to achieve the fastest growth through the forecast period, but from a much smaller base.