That is the question everyone in nonwovens is asking. Some say China but others doubt its long-term viability; others say India but others say this market is rife with problems of its own. Other regions that could become hot growth spots for nonwovens are Latin America and Eastern/Central Europe but can any of these regions provide the growth levels necessary to keep nonwovens on the upward trend in the long term?
According to statistics offered by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, India is the area experiencing the highest growth, 16-18%, but this can be deceiving as the growth is coming from such a low base. Still, the potential that this market has for growth cannot be overstated and is probably why it has received so much attention recently by way of market studies, conferences and trade expositions.
Asia-Pacific continues to garner double-digit growth, with Japan even contributing growth thanks to Chinese demand. However, industry insiders are skeptical of the accuracy of figures coming out of Asia because they tend to include materials not typically considered nonwoven, such as fiberfill. South America and Mexico as well as the Middle East continue to grow in the 10% range, a level these regions have been able to sustain for some time, and Eastern/Central Europe continues to perform well, although more and more this developing market is being grouped with Western Europe, making accurate growth assessments difficult.
That said, it's really anyone's guess what the next hot market will be for nonwovens. It seems a lot of people are putting their money behind China and India but problems could very easily crop up in either of these markets. For more on the world's developing markets, this month Nonwovens Industry brings you an updated Emerging Markets report on page 63. Find out who is doing what where in preparation for future growth. And next month, be sure to check out our annual International Top 40 to find out what the world's largest producers of nonwovens are doing to make future growth a certainty.
As always, we appreciate your comments.