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Shipments of Fibers to Nonwovens Reported for 1998



olefin, polyester and rayon staple fibers achieve record high annual figures



Published August 17, 2005
Related Searches: nonwovens fiber nonwoven roll goods

Shipments of Fibers to Nonwovens Reported for 1998
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olefin, polyester and rayon staple fibers achieve record high annual figures

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By David Harrison, Contributing Editor

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According to the latest data from the Fiber Economics Bureau, domestic producers’ shipments of olefin, polyester and rayon staple to nonwoven roll goods producers in the final quarter of last year totalled 175 million pounds, a new record high for quarterly sales. The previous record was 173 million pounds, set in the first quarter of 1998.

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The strong fourth quarter performance enabled the industry to set a new annual sale record at 691 million pounds of the fibers, up 34 million pounds (5%) from the 1997 figures. For the past three years, staple sales to the nonwovens business have set new records each year.

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Olefin staple, which became the dominant fiber in the business in 1996, edged a little further ahead of polyester last year. In the latest figures, olefin had 49% of sales while polyester’s share of the business dropped to 42%. The balance of 9% each year represented estimated rayon staple sales. Looking back over the 10-year period covered by Table 1, the increase in olefin’s marketshare at the expense of polyester and rayon has been striking. Ten years ago olefin’s participation in the business was a mere 35% compared with 65% for the two competitive fibers. Since then, as noted above, olefin has taken over 49% of the market with polyester and rayon dropping to 51%.

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Table 2 illustrates two points—first, the importance of nonwovens as a customer for polyester and olefin staple, and second, the differing growth rates for the nonwovens industry and the conventional textile markets for the two fibers. For disclosure reasons, it is not possible to include rayon staple in this comparison.

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In the case of polyester, nonwovens have increased in importance as a market, but even today only 14% of polyester staple goes to the nonwovens industry. Polyester’s main markets are in broad woven and knit goods, together with fiberfill. Those three areas accounted for 62% of last year’s sales.

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For olefin staple, the situation is very different. Nonwoven roll goods producers took 57% of all the olefin staple shipped last year; carpet face yarns took most of the rest (192 million pounds or 32%).

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In most years, nonwovens outperform the other textile markets for the two fibers. That is to say, in a strong market nonwovens typically grow more than the other markets and in a declining market they usually drop less than the other uses. Over the 10-year period, sales to the nonwovens industry increased at an annual average rate of 3.4%, but sales to the other markets as a group actually dropped at a rate of 0.4% per year.

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Fiberfill Developments
rnDespite the loss of marketshare in nonwovens mentioned above, polyester sales to that trade did manage to edge up a little last year. But in fiberfill (where polyester poundage is actually greater than it is in nonwovens), 1998 was a disaster. Total shipments were only 387 million pounds, 37 million pounds (9%) under the previous year and the poorest year for fiberfill since 1990, when the market absorbed only 376 million pounds.