Consumption of baby diapers has nearly doubled from 18.3 billion pieces in 2011 to 34.9 billion pieces in 2016. Of these products, pants accounted for 28.9 billion pieces and tape style diapers represented six billion pieces. There continues to be opportunity for increases in baby diapers because the penetration rate is still only 55.6%.
While the reversal of the one child rule in China was expected to significantly increase the birth rate, and by extension diaper sales, there was a slight bump in 2016 immediately following the policy change, but education costs and other childcare expenses discouraged many Chinese families from having a second child, so the gains have not been as strong as expected.
Meanwhile, the adult diaper category continues to be small in China but it is increasing in the double digits. In terms of product types, underwear style products comprise 58% of the market while flat type is 31% and pads represent 11% of sales. The increasing size of the elderly population continues to promise opportunities for growth in the adult incontinence market.
Although the consumption of feminine hygiene is increasing, the growth rate has hit some snags in recent years, dropping in 2012 and 2014. In terms of breakdown, 79.8 billion pieces of napkins have been sold and 38.8 billion pads were sold. The number of women using these products has been decreasing but the women using them tend to be using more products per month so the market continues to increase.
Other categories with growth potential in China are wet tissue which is being driven by improvements in hygiene habits and medical care. These markets are helping grow the use of nonwovens in China. Therefore, increasing use of and production of nonwovens in the country are expected to grow.