2018 Nonwoven Sales $367 million
David Meldram, CEO; Shachar Rachim, deputy CEO; Gilad Frenkel, vice president of sales and marketing; Soren Lian, APAC sales director; Thomas Dort, vice president of technology
Israel, North Carolina, China, Russia, India
Israel’s largest nonwovens producer, Avgol, now majority owned by multinational chemical producer Indorama Ventures Group, continues to make spunmelt nonwovens primarily for hygiene applications. Indorama acquired a 65.72% stake in Avgol in July 2018.
“Avgol is a unique fit for Indorama,” says Nick Carter, director of market intelligence. “It brings them one step closer to the customer and they can provide us with superior knowledge of the polymers.”
Indorama Ventures is already the owner of a number of nonwovens industry raw material suppliers including FiberVisions, Wellman International and Trevira.
According to Carter, Avgol has been able to remain fairly autonomous under Indorama’s ownership. As it has with its other subsidiaries, Indorama has allowed Avgol to continue its best practices to serve the global hygiene industry.
“Indorama is not about having us conform to their way,” he says. “It’s more about us showing them what we have and what we can do.”
With existing operations in North Carolina, Russia, Israel and China, Avgol’s latest frontier is India where it recently completed work on a spunmelt line for local hygiene markets. The investment is the first non-Reicofil line in operation by the company. It came onstream in 2018.
“India was a very important step for us,” Carter adds. “For us the focus of this investment is not really promoting new products but providing our customers with a means of developing the products they need to serve consumers in India.”
A combination of a strong birth rate—with 20 million babies being born annually—and government incentives for product development, India is rapidly becoming a strong growth market for baby diapers and other hygiene products.
Approximately 97% of Avgol’s business is in the hygiene market, where the company says it is very passionate about quality. This passion has guided Avgol in leading an industry-wide effort to decrease the weights of core wrapping materials to as low as seven gsm.
Throughout its entire business, Avgol has been seeking to develop new products and new technologies that respond to the changing needs of the hygiene market. In January, the company launched a range of breathable fabrics which exceed the performance of current commercially available spunmelt SMS materials. The development is in line with Avgol’s Forward Innovative Thinking (“FIT”) strategy for new product innovation.
“The enhanceFIT family is being developed to meet evolving product designer needs for lighter weight fabrics, having improved elasticity, barrier and breathable performance properties,” Carter says. “This family is based on multiple technology platforms that allows Avgol to tailor fabric performance for the needs of specific markets, including hygiene, medical and industrial applications.”
enhanceFIT Breathe is the first in a line of new fabric solutions resulting from Avgol’s recent developments in new assets and technology. The fabrics demonstrate enhanced uniformity with corresponding improvements in barrier, appearance and coverage in materials less than 25 gsm, without relying on cumbersome submicron filament fabrication methods. In practical applications, downgauged fabrics are now available that have previously required higher basis weights to achieve air permeability specifications.
According to Carter, the FIT Strategy was born out the customers’ demand that it innovate, which has partially been the result of ecommerce-driven need for differentiation. “The days of nice 24 hour runs of material are going to be fewer. We are seeing more niche products and shorter runs,” he adds.
Through this focus on new technologies, Avgol has also developed beneFIT Control, an antimicrobial solution for nonwovens.
beneFIT Control was developed to aid in contamination, discomfort and odor by controlling the microbial activity within hygiene applications, including diapers, adult incontinence and feminine care products. It is part of the beneFIT family of functional skin wellness technologies, a new range of chemistries and processes developed by Avgol to deliver superior performance and comfort to consumers.
Carter says that the development of new technologies to enhance its product range is part of its aggressive strategy to win new customers. “Our customer base is changing but so are the people that design our products,” he said. “The biggest influence will be the next generation of hygiene customers and how they perceive value.”