Pricie Hanna, vice president at industry consultancy John R. Starr, Inc., presented her take on Global Hygiene Trends at Vision 2011 last month. What she has found is emerging markets are recovering more quickly than mature markets where growth is driven by increasing diaper market penetration. In some of these regions, penetration rates are as low as 6%, particularly in rural areas.
While, penetration in North America is high, companies are hoping to profit off the aging demographics as more baby boomers depend on adult incontinence items. SCA and Unicharm are building a plant for protective underwear in Bowling Green, KY and Medline is adding a new underwear and brief line in Douglasville, GA. Kimberly-Clark has expanded capacity for protective underwear in Menasha, WI.
All of this investment has led Ms. Hanna to conclude that strong growth prospects continue for state-of-the-art, cost-competitive nonwovens used for hygiene products. "This growth will be driven by market penetration growth in emerging markets with rising consumer incomes as well as adult incontinence product growth in mature markets with aging populations,"she concluded.