A Growing Exhibition Reflects Nonwovens Industry Trends

By Jacques Prigneaux, EDANA | March 26, 2014

INDEX 2014 highlights major growth sectors including automotives, geotextiles and filtration.

INDEX14, the world’s leading nonwovens exhibition, took place from April 8-11 at the Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland. The nonwovens and related industries converged to show innovative solutions from the dynamic world of nonwovens. From raw material producers, to nonwovens manufacturers, finishers and converters, from machinery companies to measuring and testing equipment manufacturers, the key players again participated at INDEX.

In total, more than 574 exhibitors will take part in INDEX14. This represents a growth of 8.5% compared to the number of exhibitors reached in the previous edition in 2011, and 100 companies more than in 2002.

Many global companies with facilities in several countries and regions of the world are registered at INDEX. In terms of headquarter locations European-based exhibitors dominate INDEX. In fact, 356 of the 574 exhibitors are based in Greater Europe, which includes Russia and Turkey. This is up 2.9% compared to 2011. Nevertheless, 2014 has seen a surge in exhibitors coming from East Asia.

On a long-term basis, INDEX’s evolution can be correlated with the overall developments of the global nonwoven industry, both in terms of total output and by regional trends. The worldwide production of roll goods grew by 6.8% between 2001 and 2011, as described in the latest EDANA-INDA Worldwide Outlook. Moreover, during the same period, the volumes of roll goods exchanged between the different regions of the world continuously increased, excluding the 2008-2009 economic downturn.

A key evolution of INDEX has been the growing number of exhibitors coming from Turkey and China. Both countries have shown impressive growth rates of their own production of nonwovens since 2001. Due to this rocketing local production, Turkey and China became net exporters of roll goods, respectively since 2012 and 2005. The main trade partners of Turkey are countries from the European Union, the former Soviet Union and the MENA. Chinese exports have multiplied by 10 since 2001 and China has a positive trade balance in nonwovens with almost all the other regions of the world.

Therefore, considering these continuously growing trade flows of nonwovens, it is crucial to keep a close eye on trade conditions, according to the EDANA’s position on free and fair trade.

Global Nonwoven Summit

Nonwovens trade will be the main topic of the 2014 Global Nonwoven Summit (GNS). All the producers of nonwovens are invited, through their regional trade association, to take part at the GNS, to be held on Monday April 7, just before the official opening of the exhibition. The GNS is an initiative of ANFA, EDANA and INDA, the three major continental trade associations of the nonwovens industry. Its mission is to promote awareness of the nonwovens fabrics industry and identify priority areas of interest on a global basis, act collaboratively, monitor and share information and speak with one voice to support the development, growth and profitability of nonwoven markets and trade.

The technology and application of nonwoven textiles has redefined daily life and also reshaped the economic structure of the textile industry. As trade and investment become increasingly important, specialization, value chain fragmentation and market access have become key policy questions for industry competitiveness. The trade issues involving nonwovens are also heavily impacted by cross-sectorial regulatory aspects. For instance, medical devices and automobiles are all addressed as part of the next generation of trade agreements, such as the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, the EU-Japan free trade agreement or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We can wonder what the nonwovens industry should expect from the changing landscape influenced by these trade agreements.

This year, Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director at the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) will talk about the rising importance of nonwovens and global value chains. His presentation will present an overview of the global competition value-added competitiveness nonwovens offer compared to traditional textiles. Lee-Makiyama will analyze the consequences of the current and future trade barriers facing nonwovens and the impact of the major trade agreements, focusing on the key trade policy interests and challenges for nonwovens.

INDEX14 therefore, fits not only with the geographical developments of the industry, but also with the trends observed in the segmentation of the market.

Auto Focus

Nonwovens applications in automotive will be highlighted during INDEX week. Nonwovens materials are used in many parts of a vehicle including interior head liners, hood liners, doors and side panels, instrument panels and dash board, engine compartments, seating construction, sound and thermal insulation. Moreover, they can help reduce fuel consumption and the CO2 emissions.

Automotive nonwovens have showed important growth rates since INDEX11 worldwide. For instance, European roll goods sold to the automotive interiors segment alone—excluding floor and filtration applications—recorded double-digit growth since 2009. The EDANA Automotive committee has organized a specific workshop during INDEX with key decision makers from the entire supply chain including OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 manufacturers, and also nonwoven and raw material suppliers.

This automotive workshop will be held on April 8 and, simultaneously, another workshop will focus on another promising segment for the nonwovens industry, geotextiles, with a variety of case studies showing their multiple benefits. In addition, other major and leading sectors for the nonwovens industry will be discussed. In particular, tutorials covering hygiene and filtration nonwovens applications will be presented to visitors as well.

Product presentations and the research and innovation showcase will also confirm, all week long, the importance of innovation within the nonwovens industry.

Information concerning the different segments workshops and events taking place at INDEX can be obtained by contacting EDANA before the show, or the EDANA booth during the show. n

About the author
Jacques Prigneaux is the market analysis and economic affairs director at EDANA. He can be reached at jacques.prigneux@edana.org.

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