The big news in this year’s top company report, without a doubt, is expansion. With easily more than half of this year’s 40 largest nonwovens maker announcing expansion plans, the next couple of years in nonwovens should be interesting—to say the least.
The question on everyone’s minds is where all of this capacity will be targeted in the next couple of years as hundreds of thousands of nonwovens come onstream globally. Particularly in the spunmelt line where dozens of new lines—many of which by the top companies—are being installed, overcapacity is certainly a concern. However, many companies are bullish about nonwovens growth moving forward, saying that these investments are justified as they respond to hygiene growth in emerging markets as well as the need for thinner, more sophisticated products in the developed areas.
That said, this tremendous rate of investment—where some companies are adding as many as 60,000 tons to their current output—will certainly skew the rankings of our annual top company report as new lines come onstream in the next couple of years. I think we will see some rapid advancement up the charts.
Speaking of positions, this year will be the last year that Fibertex, ranked no. 17 this year, will appear in its current state. In January, its parent company split Fibertex in half, separating its hygiene business from its technical business. Next year, expect to see both companies—Fibertex Personal Care and Fibertex Nonwovens—listed separately in the Top Companies report. Another company likely to decrease its position is this year’s no. 3 player, Ahlstrom, which sold its wipes business—representing $420 million (€291 million) in sales—to Suominen. Likewise, Suominen, no. 40 this year, will receive a nice boost moving forward.
As has been the case since Nonwovens Industry started ranking nonwovens producers, Freudenberg Nonwovens was the world’s largest producer of nonwovens this year, despite facing some challenges. This position continues to be challenged, however, as many of the company’s fellow producers in the top five continue to invest for future growth.
The 40 companies profiled in this issue are ranked in terms of their 2010 nonwovens sales (in U.S. dollars). Sales figures are taken from a variety of sources, public documents, company statements, industry estimates and are only intended to be a guide. The real value of this report is the company profiles, which are taken from interviews with key nonwovens industry executives and provide key information about the largest players in the nonwovens industry. Nonwovens Industry strives to make this report as comprehensive as possible. If you know of a company you think should be included in this ranking next year, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we appreciate your comments.