2016 Nonwovens Sales: $207 million
Ahikiro Tachibana, general manager, nonwoven fabrics
Yokkaichi, Nagoya, Japan
Spunbond, meltblown, needlepunch, thermal bonded
Tafnel, Syntex, Syntex Nano
Coverstock, geotextiles, oil absorbing materials, air filters, wipes, agriculture materials, household materials
Japanese nonwovens producer Mitsui Chemicals makes 49,000 tons of polypropylene-based spunbond nonwovens in Japan, 30,000 tons in Thailand and 15,000 tons in China for a total of 94,000 tons per year. Additionally, the company makes 1000 tons of meltblown.
In 2016, sales increased slightly for the company to reach ¥22.6 billion. The sales increase in its overseas business somewhat offset declines in Japan, due to sluggish demand for spunbond materials in a stagnant diaper market.
Still, Mitsui is adding 21,000 tons of nonwovens capacity through investment projects at Nagoya, which is being expanded by 15000 tons, and Yokkaichi, where 6000 tons are being added. Both projects are expected to be complete in November 2017 and will start operation in March 2018.
Mitsui has been focused on providing high performance, higher value added nonwovens for diapers as demand for Japanese-made diapers is expanding steadily in China. Wealthy Chinese people are willing to purchase diapers made in Japan because they offer a higher quality than Chinese-made diapers. This trend is encouraging Japanese diaper manufacturers to expand their domestic diaper operations and this will boost demand for Japanese-made nonwovens in the near term while stifling demand for materials made in China and other parts of Asia.
Also in response for the Chinese consumers’ need for sophisticated diapers, Mitsui has developed high performance spunbond nonwovens with excellent stretch, elasticity and softness. These will be made on the new lines currently being added in Nagoya and Yokkaich.