The demand for polypropylene-based spunbond nonwovens used in diapers has grown significantly in China and Southeast Asia. In response to this, Japanese nonwovens manufacturers have announced plans to increase capacity domestically and beef up overseas production. Table one compares the production capacities of producers in March 2011 and (planned) December 2012.
Although the total production capacity of the four companies in the list is currently about 180,000 tons, it will jump to 255,000 tons by the end of next year, a 41.7% increase.
Mitsui Chemicals is expanding its existing faciliities in Japan while Toray, Asahi Kasei and Chisso are adding to existing sites and building greenfield facilities in China or Thailand. The transition of production capacity of the four companies by countries are: Japan from 62,000 to 72,000 tons per year; Thailand from 30,000 to 50,000 tons, China from 38,000 to 78,000 tons, plus significant investment from a number of Western companies including First Quality and Avgol. Korean capacity will remain constant at 50,000 tons..
Trends of Spunbond Nonwovens By Company
Toray has not produced polypropylene nonwovens in Japan but has made them in Korea and China. Although the company just increased its Chinese capacity from 18,000 to 38,000 tons, Toray has already announced a plan to add 20,000 more tons in China by July 2012. No Korean expansion plans have been made by Toray.
Mitsui Chemicals is going to build another line in Japan, increasing its capacity from 34,000 tons to 49,000 tons. Still, Mitsui Chemicals has examined the manufacturing of products in China and they are expected to cope with exportation from Thailand for the demand expansion in China for the time being.
Although Asahi Kasei does not currently produce spunbonded nonwovens abroad, the company has recently decided to make them in Thailand and is building a line capable of making 20,000 tons per year beginning in September.
Additionally, Chisso Corp., in partnership with Fiberweb, is building a new line in China to target hygiene applications.