EDANA’s International Nonwovens Symposium opened yesterday in St. Petersburg, Russia at the Park Inn Pribaltiyskaya Hotel. With 250 delegates and 24 exhibitors at the tabletop display, the two-day event from May 15-16 marked the first event of its kind in Russia and covered the whole nonwovens value chain from raw material producers through to a broad spectrum of finished products.
Patricia Featherstone, chair of EDANA and director of marketing and communications, RKW Ace (Belgium), opened the conference with a welcome address during which she said the special and exciting occasion is a direct result of EDANA’s Global Outreach Program and Vision 2020, which focuses on globalization, sustainability and innovation trends in nonwovens as the industry moves towards the 2020 horizon.
“The world is becoming smaller but the opportunities are becoming much greater,” said Featherstone. “Future opportunity will be opened as we continue to meet today’s challenges of reaching out to the global industry and addressing sustainability issues.”
Raw material trends were the focus early on. Dmitri Shastin, chief specialist, product management polypropylene, base polymer division, Sibur (Russia), focused specifically on polypropylene in the Russian market and Sibur’s evolving role in it.
Sibur is one of the largest Russian companies and operates in the energy/feedstock segment and the petrochemical segment with an extensive asset base throughout Russia.
The basic polymers business unit operates 2 existing sites and is a business owner of 2 new projects. The Tobolsk Polymer Project began construction in 4Q 2009 and was finished January 2013. Packaging lines are currently being tested at the site.
“When the new site comes online it will double Sibur’s polypropylene production capacity, which will make a big impact in the market,” said Shastin.
In addition to the Tobolsk Polymer Project, the founding of subsidiary company NIOST, will serve as an R&D center for Sibur.
Jacques Prigneaux, market analysis and economic affairs director, EDANA (Belgium), provided a status update on nonwoven production in Russia and the Former Soviet Union (FSU).
“Nonwovens production is growing in Russia and FSU,” said Prigneaux. “After a decline in 2009, there has been a recovery of imports. Increasing mill consumption of nonwovens in Russia and an increase in local demand for converted items is expected.”
Alexander Markov, general manager, Regent Nonwoven Materials (Russia), provided an overview of the Russian Market for spunbond/spunmelt nonwovens.
According to Markov, spunmelt production began in Russia in 1994, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the first global producers started operations in Moscow.
Markov said spunmelt capacity in Russia amounted to 61,000 tons in 2012 with Regent Nonwoven Materials being the largest producer turning out 28,000 tons per year on two lines.
Broken into segments, construction accounted for 29% of the market at 17,500 tons per year while agro business represented 24% on 14,500 tons; hygiene 22% on 13,500 tons; industrial 16% on 10,000 tons; and medical 9% on 5,500 tons.
“The Russian market is capable of producing 87,000 tons per year so there is room for growth,” said Markov.
While construction accounts for the largest share of the spunmelt market in Russia, Markov said hygiene is the fastest growing segment.
“Russia lags far behind Western Europe in terms of personal hygiene product usage,” he said. However, this is changing as the Russian economy progresses and consumers with higher standards of living and more disposable income are buying personal hygiene products. As a result of this dynamic the technical progress of Russian products on the market is advancing rapidly.”
While local producers are active in baby diaper and fem care production, the category is dominated by multinationals controlling 90% of the market and includes P&G, K-C, SCA, Bella TMZO, Ontex and Paul Hartman.
“Main trends driving the personal hygiene market in Russia moving forward will be the production of low density materials, high barrier properties and improved tactile properties,” said Markov.
Exploring trends and developments for wet wipes in Russia, Virginia Selivanova, marketing director, Cotton Club (Russia), discussed the history and evolution of wet wipes in Russia, future market trends and prospects in Russia and beyond.
According to Selivanova’s data, the largest share of wipes in the Russian market is occupied by multipurpose, or refreshing, wipes with 34% of the market, followed closely by baby wipes with 33%; antibacterial 17%; intimate care 12%; cosmetics 3%; and technical/household 1%.
“Moving forward the wet wipes market and Russia will revolve around two themes: improving flushability and wet wipes made from 100% cotton spunlace material,” said Selivanova.