Most experts would agree that Unicharm is the dominant force in the region, serving customers from plants both in its native Japan and from international outposts in countries like China, India and Thailand, but many other companies are quickly catching up.
Probably the most aggressive of these companies, at least in 2016 and 2017, has been Daio Paper, whose Thai subsidiary Ellair International has been regularly making headlines for its investment and product development efforts. In November, the company said it would add a sanitary protection line at its Thai site, which has been making GOO.N baby diapers since 2011 and wipes since late last year. Other initiatives by Daio in Southeast Asia have been the launch of baby diapers in India and the expansion of its adult incontinence lines in Thailand. These efforts intend to help Daio double its overseas profits in the next couple of years.
Daio is not the only company bullish about Thailand. The second largest economy in southeast Asia, Thailand is currently underway with a master plan, known as Thailand 4.0, that will free the country from a middle income trap by attracting high tech industries during the next five years. While many are skeptical of Thailand’s ability to cultivate a high tech workforce, it has certainly attracted a following in nonwovens.
Thailand’s transformation from a small agro-based economy into a thriving economy that counts things like electronics and automotives as its core markets is looked at closely this month starting on page 20. As one of the most rapidly advancing countries in Southeast Asia, this country will surely help shape the future of the region—and its nonwovens industry—in years to come.
Another country that is definitely ripe for growth is India and we look at one company’s efforts in the country’s feminine hygiene market on page 26. As both local and domestic nonwovens producers hone in on this country—with its huge population—as their spot for growth, we will surely be seeing more investment from makers of diapers, wipes and other nonwovens-based materials.