However, there is a great deal of variation among different regions and countries. Countries with well developed manufacturing sectors and a population with relatively high personal incomes, such as the US, Japan, and West European countries, have well established nonwovens markets. In these areas, nonwovens are prevalent in the production of a variety of goods, and individuals have the financial capability to purchase nonwoven-based consumer items.
Demand for nonwovens in developed countries is expected to accelerate from the pace set from 2007 to 2012, when recessionary conditions for most of the period brought outright declines in manufacturing and construction activity. Despite the acceleration, growth in nonwovens demand in developed areas will remain well below the global average as continued industrialization and increasing personal incomes in developing countries promote nonwovens demand.
Developing countries to spur market gains
Ongoing economic advances in China and other developing countries will promote the development of manufacturing sectors, providing opportunities for nonwovens in a variety of goods, such as filters. With respect to consumer goods, rising incomes and standards of living will propel individuals to purchase convenience items, promoting the production of disposable infant diapers among other items that are made with significant amounts of nonwoven fabrics.
Asia/Pacific region to remain key market
The largest regional market for nonwovens in 2012 was the Asia/Pacific region, with 39% of the global total. Two of the top three nonwovens consuming countries—China and Japan—are located in the region. Advances will be driven by China, which will account for 60% of the regional sales in 2017 and nearly 40% of additional global volume demand through 2017.
In 2012, North America and Western Europe each accounted for roughly 20% of the market. Gains will benefit from economic improvements, and a rebound in the manufacturing and construction sectors through 2017.
The Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa/Mideast regions each accounted for less than 10% of the global nonwovens market in 2012.
Arising from a small base, nonwovens demand is projected to post above average growth. The nonwovens industry in key export-related countries—Brazil, Russia, and Egypt—continues to rapidly develop with investment from both domestic and foreign multinational companies.
Spunmelt nonwovens to be fastest growing by process
Spunmelt nonwovens accounted for 46% of global sales in 2012, and are projected to post the most rapid gains through 2017. Growth will benefit from increased production in key markets such as personal hygiene products, particularly disposable infant diapers in developing countries, and adult incontinence products in developed areas.