This consumer preference, in fact, surprised many stakeholders in the global diaper market who had intended to enter China with a more basic, economy style diaper. Consumers in China initially responded by purchasing fancy, Japanese-style diapers, sometimes on the black market, but this didn’t last for long. In the past few years, most of Japan’s largest diaper manufacturers have begun selling premium diapers in China. These diapers are softer, stretchier and more comfortable than the diapers that have traditionally been seen even in places like Europe and the U.S., and more established markets are now looking toward China for success.
On the nonwovens front, the world’s largest manufacturer of nonwovens, Berry Global, announced a plan to invest in Chinese capacity earlier this year. The company, which already has sites in Nanhai and Suzhou, will add a massive Reicofil 5 spunmelt line at a yet-to-be-determined location to capitalize on disposable markets in China, the company says.
“This exciting news demonstrates strong commitment to our customers’ growth around the world, as well as the next step in advancing our market leading position in hygiene and healthcare material solutions,” says Scott Tracey, president of Berry’s Health, Hygiene, and Specialties Division.
Another major nonwovens producer with its eye on Asia, if not China, is Suominen. The manufacturer of spunlace and wetlaid nonwovens for wipes, medical and hygiene applications announced that a key part of its next strategic growth period will be expansion into Asia. The company already has operations in North and South Carolina and Europe, but has cited Asia as an important part of being a global player in nonwovens.
Other major nonwovens manufacturers with operations in China include Fitesa, Tenowo, First Quality Nonwovens, Lydall, Johns Manville, TWE Group and Freudenberg. These manufacturers represent all of the many technologies and markets for nonwovens and suppliers to these companies—both those based in China and around the world—that are continuously looking at this country for growth.
In the next few pages, some of Nonwovens Industry’s biggest advertisers discuss their Chinese operations—where they are going and where they have been. Together they represent just how important China is becoming to the global nonwovens industry.