Japanese nonwovens manufacturers have been increasing their presence in foreign countries as many have developed manufacturing sites overseas (see table) in recent years.
In the polypropylene-based spunbond market, Toray and Mitsui Chemicals have established new production bases in Indonesia and China and Tanaka Ai is starting production in Thailand. Asahi Kasei has made nonwovens in Thailand since November 2012 and this is the first time the company has produced nonwovens anywhere outside of Japan. Tanaka Ai has performed slit processing of nonwovens in Thailand but has not yet made nonwovens there.
As for thermal bonded nonwovens, JNC and Daiwabo Polytec are both starting offshore production—JNC in Thailand and Daiwabo in Indonesia—and marking both companies’ first production sites outside of Thailand. Tapyrus now makes meltblown nonwovens in Thailand.
Export of nonwovens produced in foreign countries
Demand for diapers and sanitary products have been increasing in China and Southeast Asia. Japanese hygiene manufacturers are pushing forward local production and expansion of overseas production bases. The local production of polypropylene spunbond nonwovens and thermal bonded nonwovens is targeting the production of hygiene products like diapers and other sanitary products. As these hygiene manufacturers have moved into Southeast Asia so have the Japanese nonwovens makers who want to supply them.
Both domestic nonwovens and imported goods are used in diapers made in Japan and nonwovens made in foreign countries by Japanese manufacturers are included in imported materials. Needless to say, the cost of the overseas production is much lower than domestically made goods and the Japanese diaper makers have used more imported goods than domestic materials. Therefore, the continued investment of Japanese nonwovens companies in foreign operations could likely result in a decrease of Japanese-made goods.