2015 Nonwovens Sales: $308 million
Y.K. Lee, chairman and CEO; W.C. Hwang, vice president, head of fiber division; Hitoshi Takeuchi, senior director, fiber division; W.S. Chun, senior director, fiber division; J.N. Kim, president of TPN; Y.K. Kim, president of TPJ
Korea, China, Indonesia
Spunbond PP (SS, SSS, SMS, SSMMS, SMMMS, bicomponent), polyester (embossed and needlepunched)
Hygiene, medical, protective apparel, industrial specialties, agricultural, upholstery, filtration, construction, geotextiles
Toray Advanced Materials, Korea’s largest maker of spunbond nonwovens with plants throughout Asia, continues to remain bullish about the strength of the Asian hygiene market.
“The supply increase of disposable hygiene products in the emerging markets is seen as the main reason for the penetration growth,” explains Evan Lee, deputy general manager of the company’s fiber marketing team. “Due to the rise in income the consumption pattern is becoming similar to that of developed countries. In addition, the change in course of China’s one child policy is another major driving force in the growth of the Asian market.”
In 2015, sales volumes grew 7% thanks to utilization of the company’s fourth China line, which was completed early in the year, while dollar sales decreased 9% on lower selling prices brought on by decreasing raw material prices.
Toray expects sales volumes to continue as it is well poised to benefit from growth in the Asian hygiene market, which is projected to increase 10% per year. During the past decade, a string of spunbond investments have made Toray Asia’s largest supplier of nonwovens to the hygiene market.
“Based on a firm and an interconnected partnership with global hygiene manufacturers, Toray’s business strategy is planned carefully alongside its partners,” Lee says. “Accordingly to our customers’ Asian expansion strategy, Toray considers investment plans to provide products and the quantity to meet the needs of our partners. Our aggressive investment is none other than the aggressive investment plan of our customers.”
Toray’s most recent expansion plan is a new polypropylene line with a manufacturing capacity of 18,000 tons per year in Gumi, Korea, which represents the company’s first new Korean polypropylene spunbond line since 2003. “As a result of the increase in personal income and the growing Chinese, ASEAN and Indian economy, disposable hygiene product market has shown sudden expansion,” Lee says. “With the rapid enlargement, the middle class parents have been expressing more interest in safety and quality standards.”
In other expansion news, TAK is currently adding line No. 2 at Toray Polytech Jakarta in Indonesia, an investment that will double the site’s capacity to 40,000 tons when it is complete sometime this fall. The site became operational in June 2013 and so far about 70% of the site’s sales have been within Indonesia. Executives expect line No. 2 to help expand the company’s role in other ASEAN nations.
Meanwhile, Toray’s Chinese site, located in Nantong, is among China’s largest nonwovens operations, now housing four spunmelt lines capable of making about 77,000 tons of material per year. The latest of these lines, an SSS spunbond line with an annual capacity of 20,000 tons, specialized in thin and soft products for the growing premium hygiene market, came onstream in June 2014. According to Lee, about 40% of nonwovens made at this site are sold in China while the remaining are exported elsewhere in Asia.
While Lee admits that Toray is focused on four core areas—Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia—he would not comment on future investments beyond the ones already announced in Korea and Indonesia. “Depending on the market growth and new prospective needs, we plan to examine and review new investment plans, however, it is untimely to define the details,” he says.