One of the highlights of the 14th Shanghai International Nonwovens Exhibition's educational sessions was chemical company BASF's presentation titled "Global Trends and Market Developments for Superabsorbents." Tina Valerius, global marketing manager – hygiene business, BASF East Asia, discussed the company's views on the latest SAP and nonwovens product trends. She said the global SAP market in 2010 was 1600 kilotons, with a current growth rate of 5%.
"Adult incontinence SAP products wil grow strongest," she said, "and femcare will stagnate as the smallest segment. Baby diapers will remain the largest of the SAP market segments."
Growth in the baby diaper market, Valerius said, is being driven by increasing wealth in emerging markets, such as Asia. "Most of the world's babies are being born in emerging markets," she noted, adding that in India, however, the penetration is quite small, as people are still not accepting of disposable diaper use.
Valerius emphasized that although the adult incontinence market is half the size of the baby diaper market, it's growing at a much faster rate. "China has a huge population, and life expectancy in Asia is increasing," she said, noting that due to this, and increasing wealth within the region, the retail channel is gaining in importance.
According to Valerius, based on these drivers the major trend in the market is a move toward ultra-thin diapers. "Cost savings is driving the trend for fluff reduction," she said. "And for end users, better mobility and increased sustainability are key factors. But continuous improvement of SAP is still required.
"The industry needs new SAP technology every 3-5 years. And we expect the ultra-thin trend to continue," said Valerius.
Odor control and dryness are also significant end use requirements, particularly in the adult incontinence market. Valerius pointed out that end users want these products to be easy to change, comfortable when both wet and dry, and offer the user discretion. She said odor control and discretion have the most potential as areas of innovation and progress.